South Carolina’s most productive wide receiver was held to four catches for 22 yards last Saturday against Texas A&M.
In other words, adjustments need to be made.
Pharoh Cooper’s streak of consecutive 100-plus-yard receiving games was snapped at three against the Aggies, but the South Carolina coaching staff is putting in time and effort to ensure he remains a focal point of the offense moving forward.
“A guy like that has got to have the ball in his hands,” interim coach Shawn Elliott said during the SEC teleconference Wednesday. “We need to find various ways … running the football, throwing the football, screens. His route-running ability is exceptional, so we need to find a way to get the ball in his hands.”
Cooper leads the Gamecocks with 44 receptions for 609 yards and five total touchdowns on the season, including four of the receiving variety.
Elliott is fully aware the South Carolina offense is vastly more productive when the ball is in Cooper’s hands, but he also won’t risk costly turnovers by trying to force-feed the wide receiver.
“You can’t always target a guy like him. If you do that, people are going to make plays by taking chances on the routes he’s running, as you saw a week ago in the interception return (against Texas A&M),” Elliott said. “We’re going to utilize a lot of different ways and find the best way to get him the ball, but we’re not just going to target him so many times …
“We need to get other guys involved and be unpredictable and move guys around in different places to get in position to adjust to his talents and the talents of our other receivers.”