The South Carolina Gamecocks offensive struggles showed up yet again in the 17-10 road loss at Kentucky. The Gamecocks now face an uphill battle toward bowl eligibility.
That is the amount of points the Gamecocks have combined to score at Vanderbilt and at Kentucky. The Gamecocks offense only managed 268 yards on a defense that gave up 42 points and 500 yards against New Mexico State last week. Kentucky entered the matchup ranked 120+ in the FBS in several defensive categories, and the Gamecocks could only manage ten points. TE Hayden Hurst was the lone bright spot in the offense, catching seven passes for 84 yards. The offensive line was poor again, leaving Brandon McIlwain with little time. The freshman had another mixed game through the air, completing 50% of his passes for 177 yards. The ground game could not get anything going either. Kentucky gave up 223 and two scores on the ground last week vs New Mexico State, but the Gamecocks didntt even break 100. Carolina was poor on third down again, going 3 for 13. Through four games, the Gamecocks are averaging just over 14 points per game, and that’s not enough for a team that wants to make a bowl game.
Defense plays OK
This was another performance where a lot of yards were given up, but not a lot of points. Forcing two turnovers and holding Kentucky to 4 of 13 on third downs kept USC in the game. The defense was gashed on the ground though, as Wildcats running back Stanley “Boom” Williams had his way with the defense. Racking up 123 yards and a score on only 15 carries, Williams led the way for Kentucky as they racked up 216 yards on the ground.
Good news, and bad news
The good news is that the Gamecocks won’t leave Williams-Brice until the presidential election is over. The bad news is, as of now, three of the five home games will be vs ranked opponents. It starts next week against Texas A&M, who, after beating Arkansas, should stay in the top ten at worst. Following the visit from the unbeaten Aggies, Georgia, UMass, Tennessee, and Missouri visit Columbia. USC’s only two remaining road games are November 12 at Florida and the trip to Clemson in the final game.
The defeat marks the third year in a row that the Gamecocks have lost to Kentucky. The loss puts a big dent in the hopes of making a bowl game. At 2-2, USC is likely to be favored in only three games left on the schedule (UMass, Mizzou, Western Carolina). Those three are “must-win” - but so far UMass has played Florida and Mississippi State tight through four, and Mizzou has found a QB in Drew Lock. Of the others, Georgia looks the most vulnerable. The Dawgs survived Nicholls (FCS) and Missouri before a hammering in Oxford by Ole Miss. Freshman QB Jacob Eason had a rough day in a tough environment, and RB Nick Chubb went down with an injury in the defeat. Georgia hosts Tennessee next week before the trip to Columbia.
Anything can happen as we are only a third of the way through the season, but unless the Gamecocks start scoring more points, six wins are going to be hard to find.