Putting yourself in a 21-0 hole against an SEC team when you’re on the road would be a significant challenge for nearly any team in the country. Despite three quick turnovers, the Gamecocks battled to stay in the game.
“We hung in there and kept our heads high. We moved the ball,” said quarterback Stephen Garcia. “It’s tough to beat a team when you spot them those points. It was the same thing in Alabama.”
“It’s easier not to get deflated when you’re doing it to yourself. It’s not like they were ramming it down our throats and we couldn’t stop them,” said wide receiver Moe Brown. “It’s just tough to beat a team when you have turnovers like that. That’s just Football 101.”
Execution is the Key
Although the stat sheet shows the Gamecocks were 1-1 in the red zone Saturday night, costly mistakes and penalties kept South Carolina from turning promising drives into touchdowns.
“We have to get better in the red zone and score touchdowns instead of kicking field goals,” said Garcia. “We can’t trade touchdowns for field goals against these teams.”
“We’ve just got to execute when we’re down there – that’s money time,” said Brown.
Picking up the tempo
Garcia and Brown both agreed that the Gamecocks need to practice harder to get back in the win column against Arkansas.
“We’re going to step up the tempo in practice and start getting on guys,” said Garcia. “We’ve just got to pick it up.”
“Coach has talked practicing fast and we’re going to make that a point of emphasis come Monday,” Brown said. “We need to make sure everyone’s going to every ball.”
Looking at the numbers
For the second straight week, Garcia threw for 300 yards. The Gamecocks spread the ball around as four different receivers each had four or more catches and at least 40 yards.
South Carolina finished with more total yards of offense than the Volunteers. However, the Gamecocks struggled to run the ball and had 65 yards of rushing offense to Tennessee’s 199.
Take away the short fields created by the turnovers and the South Carolina defense held their own against the Volunteer offense. Tennessee was just 3 of 14 on third downs and finished with fewer first downs than South Carolina.
Next weekend, the Gamecocks travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas to face the Arkansas Razorbacks. Arkansas got back on the winning track Saturday with a 63-27 win against winless Eastern Michigan. The Razorbacks boast one of the top passing attacks in the SEC. Quarterback Ryan Mallet leads the league in passing. Kickoff is set for 12:21 p.m. ET on the SEC Network.