South Carolina has had surprising success this season, and true freshman Jake Brantley looks like their quarterback of the future. With that said, issues along the offensive line as well as a young passing game keep this team from having a particularly effective offense. Some of the sacks have been on young and mobile quarterbacks over-reliant upon their legs, but 33 sacks over the course of 11 games is just too many. The issues stopping penetration extend to the running game as well; despite three backs (and a quarterback) averaging over four yards per carry the Gamecocks have the 105th ranked stuff rate nationally. While the backs have shown a surprising ability to make something out of nothing, one has to wonder how a team with a subpar offensive line will fair against Lawrence, Wilkins and co.
The Gamecocks operate almost exclusively out of 11 or 12 personnel, moving their tight ends around quite a bit before the snap. Their base running scheme is inside zone, usually having the tight end come across the formation to kick out the defensive end.
Occasionally the tight end will serve as an in-line blocker and Bentley will read the backside end.
The second most popular running scheme is power, almost always run behind a tight end kick out. While rarely generating big gains, South Carolina usually can get a couple of yards running the play.
Occasionally the tight end will down block and SC will run pin-pull sweeps.
SC’s passing game is built around the threat of their running game, typically it’s at its best when Bentley is on the run. Hyper-athletic tight end Hayden Hurst often comes across formation on inside zone roll outs.
Given that at 6’5” he is fast enough to seriously burn defenses on the bubble screen he presents a unique matchup threat.
Quite a few of the Gamecocks rare big plays come off deep shots to either Bryan Edwards or Deebo Samuel, a pair of big, fast receivers who are at their best one on one on the outside.
It’s hard to handle a 6’0”+ receiver this fast on play action without giving up a a completion or a penalty.
Should defenses start to overplay the fade, the Gamecocks have a built in adjustment: simply having their outside receiver run a comeback route. This is especially effective combined with Bentley’s underrated ability to keep plays alive with his feet.
His ability to make plays that most players would not even dare to attempt is largely responsible for the Gamecocks relatively solid passing downs offense. He’s fearless and good enough to get away with it thus far.
It helps that his receivers have shown the ability to make good catches and adjust when Bentley does take off. There’s more than a little Manziel in this offense.
Deebo Samuel has also shown quite a bit of skill running the jet sweep in the red zone.
Of course, this being a Muschamp team, sometimes they’ll motion their QB out on fourth and short to run the wildcat.
This is a young team (almost every skill player is an underclassman) in their first year under new coaching. There have already been flashes of potential and there’s no reason to think this offense couldn’t coalesce into a serious problem by 2018, maybe even 2017, but in 2016 it’s hard to see it overcoming issues in both run and pass blocking.
Clemson 35 - Gamecocks 21