South Carolina report card: Good, but not good enough
South Carolina fell to No. 7 LSU, 45-24, on Saturday in a competitive game for the Gamecocks — at least early on. Here are the grades the Gamecocks received based on their performance.
Making his second career start, quarterback Perry Orth certainly fared better than he did against UGA a few weeks ago. Orth put up career numbers: 200 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, as well as an interception. South Carolina totaled 283 yards of offense, its lowest production of the season aside from the UGA game. Granted, it was a de-facto road game in one of the most electric atmospheres in all of college football. But the Gamecocks still have much work to do on offense.
South Carolina may have held Leonard Fournette to a season-low 158 yards, but LSU still managed to pile up 396 yards on the ground and 624 yards overall. The South Carolina defense stood tall in the first half, holding Fournette and Co. in check — for the most part — but could not continue that type of play into the second half. Both Fournette and backup Derrius Guice eclipsed 100 yards rushing as the Gamecocks’ defense was exploited.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
Alas, a bright spot. South Carolina freshman Rashad Fenton returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to make it a 10-point game before the half. The special teams ace grabbed the attention of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who after the game said Fenton deserves more snaps on offense. Fenton looked the part of the Gamecocks’ most dynamic weapon on the field Saturday.
South Carolina knew what it needed to do to win the game: slow down Fournette. Well, the Gamecocks tried, but still allowed more than 150 yards to the Heisman Trophy hopeful as well as his rushing mate, Guice. It would take an out-of-world effort to slow down LSU’s rushing attack and South Carolina was not up for the challenge, which it needed to do given its offensive liability.
Last week, Spurrier criticized his team’s running game. That area did not fare much better against the LSU defense, netting 74 yards on Saturday. It seemed as if that was an area of the game South Carolina would need to improve upon if it were to have a shot to upend these Tigers.
LSU possessed the ball for nearly 40 minutes, leaving South Carolina with only 20 minutes. Controlling the clock and picking up big chunks of yardage with the run game was exactly what LSU sought out to do, and South Carolina could not do anything to stop it. There were moments when the Gamecocks looked competitive. Pharoh Cooper, Marquavius Lewis and Fenton were outstanding, and even Orth looked solid at times. But South Carolina needed to dictate this game if it wanted to have a shot, and the Gamecocks instead played the Tigers’ game.