Post-mortem: Ward shoulders blame for Gamecocks’ nightmarish outing

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at South Carolina

No one was more disappointed in South Carolina’s dud Thursday night than Lorenzo Ward, the Gamecocks’ defensive coordinator who incorporated a few three down linemen concepts into his playbook this season due to perceived depth at the line of scrimmage.

Ward watched from the sideline as Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill directed a well-oiled offense that accumulated 680 total yards, the most South Carolina has ever given up, and did what it wanted against a poor-tackling unit often caught out of position.

Dejected at the post-game podium, Ward took the blame.

“It starts with me as a coach and obviously I didn’t have the guys ready to play like I thought I did,” Ward said. “We have to take responsibility for our players as coaches.”

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After the Aggies took an early 10-point lead, few adjustments were made and the Gamecocks looked out of sorts defensively. Tempo was an issue, players were tired and a secondary with three new starters at the back end was torched by a group of faster, more athletic wide receivers.

“We missed a lot of tackles in the open field and they tried to take advantage of our youth,” Ward said. “I don’t think it’s the system. Whether we’re in the 3-4 or 4-2-5, we got to tackle and play in space.”

Despite losing All-American defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles along with starting corners Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree, the Gamecocks thought they could generate a consistent pass rush to try and thwart Texas A&M’s pass-happy attack.

Instead, blitzes were picked up with precision, South Carolina had little pressure off the edge and Hill had several seconds after every snap to go through his progression and find the open man.

RELATED: Video Highlights — Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28

Quick to point fingers, Spurrier wasn’t happy with the holes in the Gamecock defense and challenged Ward’s new scheme.

“I had been reading like you guys have about our new 3-4 defense,” Spurrier said. “Did anybody like that 3-4 defense? I don’t know if it would’ve mattered if we played a 6-6 defense. I don’t know if 12 out there would’ve helped that much. We’ve got some coaching decisions to make to see if we can’t find a pass rush somehow.”

By the final horn, Texas A&M ran 99 plays and tallied 39 first downs, disparaging numbers for a South Carolina defense that has ranked in the SEC’s Top 5 in total defense three consecutive seasons.

“That’s the most plays I’ve ever been a part of as a defensive coach period,” Ward said. “We got to get better at tackling because East Carolina is going to spread us out just like Texas A&M did.”

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  • “We got to get better at tackling…” Understatement of the year right there. I saw one, maybe two quality tackles from the defense last night. If the D doesn’t figure things out quickly, ECU will have a field day on this secondary and lack of pressure. After last night, Shane Carden is licking his chops to get at this Defense.

  • best outcome of this game is that we don’t have to hear from Steve Spurrier anymore this year. No more smart-aleck, “must see tv” interviews, one-liners, etc. The ole ball coach will be really quiet from here on out.

    • You know better than that, He will still give the one-liners. He will be quiet this week, but I bet you he will get to the Spurrier we know and love once the D gets back on track and start winning again.

      • You’d think a dawg would know better than that. Y’all just make sure y’all take care of business this week, stop losing to Clemscum.

  • Preperation. One team was prepared for opening night. One team was not. Coaching? I don’t think A&M is that much better athletically? Just got out coached and A&M was ready to play. Maybe South Carolina was exposed a little bit? Guess we’ll see? I would like to see A&M shake-up the West.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Between missed tackles and our inability to get pressure on the QB, we DEFINITELY weren’t prepared. Next week wil show the true character of this team.

      • I think the Georgia game will show much. They should beat East Carolina handedly. Might do them some good to “yank” some kinks out of the D. If Georgia whoops them at home? Could be an interesting year in Columbia.

    • “Exposed a little”? Oh no, it became obvious after the first set that Texas A&M had prepared and South Carolina had been patting each other on their backs reading all those great articles about themselves. I wouldn’t want to be a player or a coach right now at SC. Knowing Spurrier’s history, I would imagine no player position or coaching position is safe at this point. Dylan Thompson actually put up some pretty good numbers…that was the best on-side attempt the Gamecocks have attempted in the past 10 years. Unfortunately, however, there were some AAA high school offenses that could have scored repeatedly on that defense. Let’s face it, they were lost, unprepared, and it was humiliating to watch….I can only imagine what the film room playback will entail…

      • Remember that punt in the 2Q that South Carolina failed to down at the Texas A&M 1-yard line?

        Reminded me of the Gamecocks of yesteryear. Those are the kind of plays that don’t make the box score that are HUGE in determining games.

  • That’s really nice that Ward “shoulders the blame” for the night. Last time I looked his title was Defensive Coordinator. This defense attempt was a fail. The good news is the Gamecocks have 9 days to throw this system out. This was a horrible night, but, the season continues, and knotheads like bulldog larry will continue to throw out bulletin board stuff that will make the season salvageable. Keep talking knotheads…..

    • Dude come on!? Do you really think what some fan or knothead has to say is really going to determine the outcome of a college football game? Especially 2 ranked teams with a conference championship on the line. Come on man!! What anybody has to say “bulletin board” stuff doesn’t matter.