We’re six games into South Carolina’s first season with Will Muschamp, and it hasn’t been pretty on offense.
The Gamecocks (2-4) have struggled to score. Kurt Roper’s offense is stuck in the mud, averaging 14 points per game, a figure that ranks last in the country.
At 92.3 yards per game, the rushing offense isn’t much better, sitting 126th out of 128 teams. Through the air, South Carolina averages 212.2 yards, which is 87th.
Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain. Only McIlwain. McIlwain and Orth. Only Orth.
South Carolina has used four different quarterback combinations this season, and none have been particularly effective.
However, Orth is the better thrower. The senior has completed 57 of 90 throws for 661 yards with 2 interceptions. McIlwain has connected on 56 of 106 passes for 567 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
Orth also possesses a higher completion percentage (63-53), averages more yards per attempt (7.3-5.3) and has a better rating (120.58-102.10).
McIlwain is the better runner. Not counting the 8 times he’s been sacked, which has resulted in minus-76 yards, the freshman has rushed 44 times for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. Orth’s rushing total, adjusted after the 8 sacks are removed, is minus-2 yards.
Muschamp hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Jake Bentley taking the reins this season, even though the freshman hasn’t played.
A.J. Turner enters the halfway point as the team’s leading rusher with 68 carries for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. A starter in four games, the redshirt freshman is fifth on the team with 104 yards receiving and has 1 of the team’s 2 touchdown catches.
Turner is the only Gamecocks back to eclipse 100 yards in a game this season, which he did against Texas A&M. But most of those 113 yards were on the first play from scrimmage, a 75-yard touchdown jaunt.
Freshman Rico Dowdle started against Georgia and ran well, not counting his second-quarter fumble. After missing the first four games, Dowdle has shown plenty of upside, totaling 16 carries for 77 yards and 1 score.
David Williams has appeared in four games. He has rushed 23 times for 110 yards after spending much of preseason camp in Muschamp’s doghouse.
Moving forward, it looks like the two freshmen will be featured. Dowdle provides a blend of power and speed. Turner has shown flashes of explosiveness. With those two, the future of the position looks promising.
Freshman Bryan Edwards is the only wide receiver who has double digits in receptions. Besides his 20 catches, Edwards is second on the team with 258 yards receiving, but he hasn’t scored.
Had Deebo Samuel not been sidelined for three games with a hamstring injury, he would have way more than 8 catches for 156 yards. Samuel, who missed much of last season with the same injury, is tied for the team lead with 2 touchdown runs.
Freshman Randrecous Davis was on his way to becoming a productive pass catcher before his hamstring injury, but he’s missed the last three games.
Beyond that trio, the Gamecocks wide receiver corps doesn’t have many receivers who can stretch the field vertically. Terry Googer, Chavis Dawkins and Javon Charleston have combined for 13 catches for 95 yards.
That’s left plenty of folks wondering how much of an impact converted quarterback Lorenzo Nunez could have had. For a team that’s desperate for playmakers, it’s not too outrageous to question the decision to redshirt him. Then again, if you saw him during preseason camp, Nunez still had a long way to go at his new position.
Hayden Hurst is one of the few offensive players who’s met or exceeded preseason expectations. The sophomore leads the team with 30 catches for 388 yards. Nationally, he’s tied for first among tight ends in receptions and fourth in yards.
K.C. Crosby is a regular contributor in the two-tight-end sets, something Roper has relied on a lot. Crosby’s tied for third among Gamecocks pass catchers with 15 receptions and fourth with 119 yards. He also has the other touchdown catch.
Fellow sophomore Jacob August also has seen a fair share of snaps, totaling 5 catches for 52 yards.
Before the season, many touted the offensive line as a team strength. The unit started poorly but recently has shown improvement. However, the inconsistencies and untimely penalties have been frustrating and too frequent.
Injuries have played their part in preventing South Carolina from developing continuity. Three different right tackles have started, most recently Malik Young. He has gotten the nod in the last two contests. Right guard Donell Stanley continues to recover from his ankle injury, which has kept him out since the first half of the Vanderbilt game.
Left tackle Mason Zandi and left guard Zack Bailey have started every game. Center Alan Knott has started the last five after serving a suspension during the opener. Cory Helms also has started every game, either at center or right guard.
South Carolina has allowed 16 sacks, which is tied for 104th in the country. The 44 tackles for loss allowed is tied for 119th.