The University of South Carolina’s defensive effort against the Georgia Bulldogs last weekend in Athens was beyond humiliating. The Gamecock “D” – one of the elite units in the country a year ago – was torched for 538 yards and 41 points.
By comparison, Florida put up just 183 yards when it beat USC 44-11 last year in Gainesville.
But the worst part wasn’t the gaudy numbers – it was the weak effort and total lack of execution put forth by Lorenzo Ward’s players. Seriously … South Carolina had more blown coverages against Georgia than a Janet Jackson Super Bowl outfit, and as a result a team that could have left Athens with national championship aspirations is instead limping back to Columbia, S.C.
Meanwhile one-time Heisman Trophy frontrunner Jadeveon Clowney was held largely in check … likely putting an end to his bid to become the first defensive player in more than a decade to capture the award.
Prior to Saturday’s game Ward said his players were “focused.” Really? On what, we wonder? Because it certainly wasn’t preparing for Georgia’s offense.
“I totally expect us to play well,” Ward added.
Well they didn’t …
For those seeking to ascertain why South Carolina’s defense was so abysmal against Georgia, one place to start looking might be the Gamecock sideline – where second year linebackers’ coach Kirk Botkin nearly came to blows with first-year defensive line coach Deke Adams. In fact Ward had to help separate his two assistants to prevent a melee from breaking out.
Take a look …
(Click to play)
The most bizarre thing about this confrontation? It occurred after South Carolina stopped Georgia on its opening drive of the second half – one of the only times the Gamecocks were able to shut down a Bulldog offense led by Heisman Trophy candidates Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley.
What the hell right?
After the sideline scuffle, South Carolina’s defense fell apart – giving up scores on Georgia’s next three drives. The dagger in the heart? An 85-yard touchdown pass from Murray to wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley – who was wide open after the Gamecock secondary blew a coverage assignment. After that play, the will of the Gamecock “Stormtroopers” was completely broken – and when Georgia got the ball back with more than eight minutes left on the clock they ran it down USC’s throat.
And ran every last second off the clock …
So what happens next?
“We have to be a little more creative on defense,” USC head coach Steve Spurrier said after the game.
More creative? Hmmmm. We’d start with keeping your assistant coaches from trying to strangle one another on the sidelines …