Rapid reaction: Gamecocks’ home streak snapped, questions aplenty

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at South Carolina

Here’s a couple of quick thoughts on South Carolina’s 52-28 loss to Texas A&M:

What it means: Where do we start? The Gamecocks’ lofty expectations as the preseason Eastern Division favorites were way overblown and the 18-game home winning streak is over in convincing fashion. South Carolina has noticeable issues at all three levels of its defense and a reshuffling at several positions could be in order.

What I liked: South Carolina’s receivers not named Shaq Roland found openings in space and made plays against Texas A&M’s secondary despite a size disadvantage. Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones and Pharoh Cooper combined for 217 yards receiving and four touchdowns. Jones opened South Carolina’s scoring with a 69-yard touchdown reception and later added a nifty grab in the corner of the end zone late in the third quarter.

What I didn’t like: Lorenzo Ward’s game plan defensively. South Carolina surrendered a school-record 677 yards, embarrassing for a stingy unit that gave up just 196.2 yards per game last season. The Gamecocks were caught out of position often on the boundary and were beaten down the seam by a faster, more efficient offense. In the first half especially, there appeared to be several breakdowns in communication before the snap. South Carolina’s pass rush was nearly non-existent and as a result, Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill dissected the Gamecocks at the back end.

Key Play: Tra Carson’s 2-yard touchdown burst with 1:16 left in the second quarter gave the Aggies a 31-14 lead and dropped the Gamecocks to the canvas. Trailing 45-28 near the end of the third quarter, Dylan Thompson’s interception on third-and-1 sealed it.

What’s next: South Carolina hosts East Carolina next week, a pass-heavy offense led by highly-decorated senior quarterback Shane Carden. It won’t get any easier for an inexperienced secondary.

COMMENTS

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  • What was the bigger story, the Aggie offense or the Gamecock defense?

    • Definitely the (lack of) Gamecock defense. Out of position all night. No pressure. HORRIBLE tackling. And way to much cushion given by the secondary. I quit counting the number of times I saw the secondary giving the wideouts 10+ yards of cushion. Thee 3-4 needs to go back into hiding. Hell, coach Ward needs to first practice tackling drills all week this coming week.

  • Probably the Gamecock defense. No one doubted that Kevin Sumlin’s offense would score a lot of points, but this South Carolina defense looked miles away from where it was only a season ago (and not in a good way)

  • Carolina looking at a very possible 0-3 start.They have a ways to go to be a Decent team.

  • Do you think they would scrap the 3-4 after just one game? There are other pass heavy teams in the East. A&M just had too many talented receivers to throw too, not many other teams will have that kind of depth at receiver.

    • I’ve got a feeling that they will scrap the 3-4, maybe not after just one game. The three down linemen had zero effectiveness with pressure, granted a 4th down lineman may not change that but it also wouldn’t hurt it either. I’m willing to bet, if they go with 3-4 against ECU and end up with the same results, we’ll see the 4-3 back against UGA. I still think the 3-4 will be very short lived for the Gamecocks. I don’t see that sticking around.