South Carolina can't solve The Citadel's option-oriented offense in stunning loss
Once upon a time, Tyler Renew was a kid selling peanuts at Williams-Brice Stadium. On Saturday, he gave most of that stadium a weekend’s worth of indigestion.
Renew, now a fullback for The Citadel, broke free through the middle of the Gamecocks defense for a 56-yard touchdown run that proved to be the game-winner in a 23-22 upset.
A new coach is coming: The odds of interim coach Shawn Elliott hanging on to this job full-time were pretty slim before this game. Those odds are zero now.
Running free: When facing an option-oriented offense, a fan has to reasonably expect for that team to have some success running the football. What The Citadel did against the South Carolina defense went well beyond that. The Bulldogs racked up 350 yards on 61 carries, and in doing so, controlled the clock and tempo of the game for long stretches.
Wasted day: Perry Orth had his best college game at quarterback for the Gamecocks, throwing for 367 yards and a touchdown while not turning the ball over.
The mysterious flag: Orth connected with Pharoh Cooper for what looked to be a 94-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute left. But a false start negated that scoring strike, and a look at a replay suggests that flag was on the slot receiver on the top side of the formation:
SOUTH CAROLINA penalty, false start (-3 Yards) Video – via @ESPN App https://t.co/5SltBdUnLZ BULL
— REAL USC (@RealUSC) November 21, 2015
Falling Skai: South Carolina standout linebacker Skai Moore missed practice during the week because of a death in his family. As a result, his snaps were limited on Saturday and he finished with only 3 tackles.
Offense: (B) — The passing game was very good, but the running game was largely ineffective. The Gamecocks rushed for just 72 yards while averaging less than 3 yards per carry.
Defense: (D+) — Allowing 23 points allowed isn’t terrible, but giving up three-and-a-half football fields worth of rushing yardage against an FCS school is unacceptable.
Special Teams: (A) — The Gamecocks were solid in the return game, Elliott Fry converted 3-for-3 field goal attempts and Sean Kelly had 3 punts for a 49.3-yard average.
Coaching: (F) — I don’t hand out an “F” lightly, but there really can’t be another grade for this performance.
Overall: (F) — The passing game was a bright spot, but this was a dark, dark day for the South Carolina football program. And for a little salt in the wound, it had to write The Citadel a check for $275,000 for making the trip.
- The Citadel lined up in the T-formation and spent the afternoon dominating the line of scrimmage against an SEC school. I understand that SEC schools aren’t exposed to much option offense, but co-coordinators Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward have to prepare the team better than this.
- As inept as the Gamecocks were at stopping the run, they were equally woeful when trying to run it themselves. I would have liked to have seen more power football and less running plays out of the shotgun and pistol.
WR Pharoh Cooper: Cooper was massive, hauling in 11 passes for 191 yards and a score. And some would argue that it could have been 12 for 285 yards and two scores. The fact that South Carolina needs that sort of effort from the junior to win ball games is an indictment of the lack of other weapons on the roster.
DE Gerald Dixon: The senior had a season-high 13 tackles during a long day of dealing with the Bulldogs’ option attack.
FB Tyler Renew: The former peanut salesman rushed for 174 yards and 2 scores to help The Citadel pull the upset.
QB Lorenzo Nunez did not dress with an injured shoulder. Mike Matulis did not start at left guard because of an injury, and WR Terry Googer suffered a concussion during the contest.