ATHENS, Ga. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier couldnt help but chuckle when it was relayed to him that two of his defensive assistants had to be separated during a sideline argument Saturday.
Probably one said, Your guy needs to make a play! And then the other one would say, Your guy needs to make a play! Spurrier concluded, following the Gamecocks 41-30 loss to 11th-ranked Georgia.
No one on the sixth-ranked Gamecocks vaunted defense made a play, including superstar defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Bulldogs rolled up 536 yards and controlled the ball for over 35 minutes.
While the offense was supposed to be South Carolinas weaker unit, it was quarterback Connor Shaw (16 of 25 for 228 yards passing) and running back Mike Davis (149 yards on 16 carries) who kept the Gamecocks in the game until the fourth quarter.
Georgia has an exceptional tailback in Todd Gurley, who grew up in Tarboro. The Bulldogs used him to bludgeon South Carolina. Gurley had 30 carries for 132 yards. While he didnt have that one spectacular run, like Davis (a 75-yarder up the left sideline late in the third quarter), Gurley kept gashing the defense for 6-yard gains and first downs.
Weve got to be creative, weve got to change our defense. Weve got to create turnovers, Spurrier lamented post-game.
The Gamecocks (1-1) are without a turnover forced this season. Meanwhile, Shaw fumbled at the end of a scramble deep into Georgia territory, forfeiting what would have been an optimum scoring opportunity when South Carolina couldnt afford to waste any offensive chance.
We didnt score on every possession, and we pretty much had to, Spurrier said.
Not that this loss was Shaws fault. He threw for two touchdowns and scrambled constantly to extend drives. But the defense couldnt get off the field, and that to some degree was a function of how the Bulldogs (1-1) game-planned for Clowney.
Nearly every play pass or run was directed to the opposite side from where Clowney lined up. He had one sack of quarterback Aaron Murray (17 of 23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns), but otherwise his impact was minimal.
This made for maximum frustration from the star from Rock Hill.
Its like Im always chasing from the backside, said Clowney. They ran away from me the whole game. The coaches have to decide where to play me.
I told coach Youve got to put me somewhere else. Maybe in the middle. Ive got to make some plays.
This came a week after television caught Clowney looking winded and wilted in the heat of the Gamecocks season-opener against North Carolina. His teammates defended him fiercely afterward, several saying Clowney would have a big game against Georgia.
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said theres no reason to single out one defender for the blame they all fell short.
There is no excuse. Weve got to get better, said Ward. Every defensive position didnt play well. And Ive got to get better, too.
This loss broke South Carolinas three-game winning streak over Georgia. If theres any consolation, its the knowledge that Georgia came back from two of those losses to win the SEC East bid to the conference championship game. So it still could happen for the Gamecocks.
Thats the mindset we have to have, said Shaw. They rebounded and got to Atlanta. Now weve got to do it, too.
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