COLUMBIA South Carolina running back Mike Davis has his mad on this week, and he says he’s not alone.
“I think we’re all looking at it as a statement game,” Davis said of Saturday’s matchup with Vanderbilt (7 p.m., ESPN) at Williams-Brice Stadium. “We’re all angry. We want to take it out on someone. No one is chill.”
The source of that anger is last week’s 41-30 loss at Georgia, which dropped the 1-1 Gamecocks’ national ranking from sixth to 13th. Coach Steve Spurrier was displeased that Davis showed all that anger to the media Tuesday, but he had to understand the point.
As well as the Bulldogs played, the Gamecocks contributed greatly to their own demise. There were frequent alignment problems, particularly when Georgia’s offense went up-tempo. The defense reacted poorly to Georgia’s determination to run away from star end Jadeveon Clowney. There was even bickering on the sideline between two assistant coaches that got national attention.
Spurrier addressed the brush-up between linebackers coach Kirk Botkin and defensive line coach Deke Adams.
“We hashed it out on Sunday,” Spurrier said. “We’re not going to have any more of that.”
The rest of South Carolina’s flaws against Georgia are more a work in progress. Spurrier repeatedly said he and his assistants are as culpable for what happened in Georgia as the players.
“The way the players perform reflects on the coaches, and we didn’t coach very well last week,” he said. “We had a lot of breakdowns. That starts with me – I’m responsible for everything around here.”
The Bulldogs turned 10 possessions into five touchdowns and two field goals. They benefited from a successful on-side kick, which Spurrier said reflected the coaching breakdown; two players on the coverage team were supposed to line up inside the hash marks, but instead were outside them, leaving space for Georgia’s kick recovery.
That was far from the only flaw, Spurrier said.
“Our third-down defense was lousy; you can’t allow teams to make 3rd-and-15s,” he said. “There’s nothing embarrassing about losing if you play hard and smart. We didn’t do that.”
Clowney had little impact against Georgia, with one sack and two tackles. He expressed frustration afterward that teams are constantly running away from him, suggesting he should play in the middle of the defensive line as a countermeasure.
Spurrier said there’s a more basic solution to teams avoiding his star defender.
“We need five guys up on the other side because teams are going to run over there” to avoid Clowney, Spurrier said. “All good defensive teams tackle well and are good against the run. We weren’t that.”
Linebacker Sharrod Golightly said that starts with being better organized.
“Mostly it was the little things, like alignment,” Golightly said. “We didn’t get lined up against their hurry-up. That was a weakness.”
Though Vanderbilt is traditionally a second-level team in the SEC, the Commodores (1-1) have been pesky against South Carolina in recent years. Spurrier said he sees a distinct improvement in the talent Vanderbilt is signing.
“Now they’re (SEC-level) athletes,” he said. “Their defensive players are fast and lean.”
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