LEXINGTON, Ky. – The South Carolina defensive game plan was simple, and so was Will Muschamp’s answer when asked about it.
The Gamecocks sought to load the box, stop the run and force Wildcats quarterback Stephen Johnson to beat them by throwing the ball.
Muschamp confirmed it with a quick “yep” following South Carolina’s 17-10 loss at Kentucky on Saturday.
“We were loading up as many as we can get down there,” Muschamp said. “Go watch the film. There’s a lot of folks in there. We have to get off a block and have to make a tackle.”
Kentucky’s duo of Boom Williams and Benny Snell were the difference for the Wildcats. They combined for 200 rushing yards on 31 attempts with 2 touchdowns on a night scoring was hard to come by.
Williams did the damage early. His biggest run came in the third quarter when he broke outside for a 43-yard touchdown.
“We knew coming into the game they were going to try and run the ball,” Gamecocks defensive end Darius English said. “We didn’t do a very good job of stopping it.”
Snell ended the game for the Wildcats and finished off the Gamecocks. The freshman, who had a 4-touchdown game last week, was in at the start of the fourth quarter. From there, it was run left, rinse, repeat. The South Carolina defense could not stop it.
“Well, we’re not the most physical bunch in the secondary,” Muschamp said. “They wanted to make our DBs tackle and that’s what we did. We have some guys. We have to tackle better. We’re doing everything we can do as far as teaching is concerned and all those things. We have to learn to wrap, stick your face in the fan and like it.”
Safety D.J. Smith missed a tackle attempt on Snell on a first-and-goal attempt early in the fourth. He said he played the run incorrectly, as he came on the inside instead of the outside to try and stop the freshman.
The touchdown play was the 8th run for Snell on the drive, 7 of which came consecutively to open the series.
“I feel like they didn’t throw the ball that much. I feel like they ran in the second half,” Smith said. “If teams are going to run the ball, we need to pick it up and stop the run.”
Muschamp mentioned Smith’s missed tackle at the goal line, but it’s hardly the lone play that went wrong. The South Carolina coach called struggling to hold the point of attack a “reoccurring theme” with his defense.
On Saturday, it failed to get off blocks and make plays even when they knew it was coming.
“Defense is playing average, I guess,” English said. “We’ve gotta play better on defense.”