A Dramatic Win that Shouldn't Have Been (in Multiple Ways)
This is a game that was strange in multiple ways. First, the Gamecocks out-gained the Bulldogs in both phases of the game, 438 yards to 361 yards, had 6 more 1st Downs, had better 3rd Down efficiency, but barely won the game. Second, the Gamecocks only had 51 seconds and 79 yards to go to the goal line with no timeouts, but still managed to win the game. Losing the turnover battle and missing two FGs explains the former, while amazing play from Jake Bentley (with with a lot of help from Bryan Edwards) explains the latter. Here's some thoughts on the game:
- Louisiana Tech is the epitome of a lower division team whom playing against can be a lose-lose proposition for Power-5 teams. ESPN currently predicts the Bulldogs to win 7 of their final 8 games on their schedule and become C-USA champion. This is a team that is more than up to the task of giving a middle-of-the-pack Power-5 team all sorts of difficulties if that team doesn't execute extremely well. This was certainly the case last week.
- The true-Freshman cornerback for Louisiana Tech, #21 Amik Robertson, was one of the best true-Freshman corners I can remember seeing. A lot of big name teams are going to regret passing on this kid in the next few years.
- After letting the dust settle and looking more closely at the game, I found that the Offense didn't play as badly as I initially thought. Given that both teams were following a possession strategy in the game, the Gamecocks only ended up having 9 possessions. They scored on three of those possessions, missed two make-able FGs, turned the ball over twice, and punted twice. On Carolina's 2nd possession, they averaged 5.2 yards / play before a bad snap resulted in sack with a big loss, which then led to a punt. Miscommunication on a route resulted in an interception on the 3rd series of the game. On the first drive of the 2nd Half the Gamecocks got 10.3 yards / play before a missed block led to a Ty'Son Williams fumble. Overall for the game the Gamecocks averaged 6.5 yards / play, which would put them around 15th in the nation if done over an entire season. Not too shabby. Basically a few mistakes and a lack of execution in key situations led to the low scoring output, not any real deficiencies in play calling.
- With Deebo gone for the season Jake Bentley spread the ball around a lot. A total of 10 different players caught passes in the game, with 3 of those being true-Freshmen.
- The Defense played pretty well in this game, considering that we were down both Bryson Allen-Williams and Dante Sawyer, two guys that have been having strong seasons so far. They only gave up 16 points (only one TD), and held the Bulldogs to 2.9 yards / carry. That's a respectable showing against a decent offense.
Teriyaki Chicken Wings
After every win I'll give out a dozen wings to those most responsible for the victory.
Edwards had his best ever game as a Gamecock, catching 6 passes for 122 yards. His 41-yard reception in the final seconds was an incredible play, as he leapt over a LA Tech defender to basically steal an interception from him and a put the Gamecocks in position for a game-winning FG.
Jake had a solid outing, completing 64.7% of his passing attempts for 295 yards, a TD, and an INT. He really shined on the last drive of the game, however. This kid has a knack for making big plays when they're needed most. His scramble for 24 yards on 3rd & 10 and his 41-yard pass to Edwards that immediately followed won the game for the Gamecocks.
After struggling in many of the games since his phenomenal performance against Tennessee last year, the old JaMarcus King showed up to grab an interception in the red zone late in the 3rd Quarter, which prevented LA Tech from putting the game away with a score.
OrTre finished off a 97-yard drive following King's interception with a 28-yard TD reception. He turned 19 less than two weeks before the game, but he's already a grown man out on the field. LA Tech defenders couldn't tolerate it. He now has 3 receptions for 2 TDs in his career.
Skai Moore was all over the place, leading the team in Tackles with 12.
Had his best game yet as a Gamecock, rushing for 95 yards on 13 carries, including a great 35-yard run for a TD. He also had a bad fumble in the 2nd Quarter, but this was partly due to his lead blocker missing his block on the play.
Filling in for an injured Bryson Allen-Williams, Fennell played a solid game and collected a sack. He also had a key pressure that forced the interception to JaMarcus King.
Sadarius played most of the game at Left Guard after Corey Helms went down with an injury in the first series and the O-line was suffled around. Played a very solid game in the first significant action of his career.
White missed his first four attempts of the season, and his first two in the game against LA Tech. When he lined up for the game-winning kick, I was more concerned for the kid personally than I was for Gamecocks taking a loss. He likely would have never been able to live it down if he missed that kick. Kudos to him for having a short memory and making the play when it counted the most.
Watch the game again below.