COLUMBIA -- Coming into last Saturday’s matchup against N.C. State, the plan offensively was to start Rico Dowdle at running back and rotate in A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams over the next few series.
That didn’t happen.
Dowdle shouldered the majority of the load against the Wolfpack, getting 12 of the team’s 21 total carries. Turner, who played primarily on special teams, had one rush for two yards and Williams caught one pass for five yards.
But going into this week’s game against Missouri, the running back rotation could be more even.
“This week you’ll see a better rotation at running back, more of a rotation. A lot had to do with we only had 50 plays of offense,” Dowdle said. “N.C. State basically drove the ball and basically had over a hundred snaps on offense. That had a lot to do with it.”
The Gamecocks finished 31 net yards, including negative-20 yards on quarterback Jake Bentley sacks, for a 1.5 average gain per carry. The longest run by a running back was Dowdle’s seven-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Saturday’s total was the lowest rushing yards the team had since rushing for just 30 yards against Georgia last season. It was the lowest amount of rushing yards the Gamecocks had in a win since going for 60 yards against Miami in the Independence Bowl in 2014.
“We expected not to be able to do much,” Dowdle said. “We did what we could do; I thought our O-line did a great job. As far as running the ball, I thought we did what we had to do. At the end of the day, we got the win.”
USC head coach Will Muschamp said the game plan was to spread the field passing and get the ball into space to try and tucker out the defensive front seven, saying the most “expending thing you do in the game is rush the passer.”
Of the 50 plays the Gamecocks ran Saturday, 36 were scripted passes. Jake Bentley threw 29 passes, scrambled for a run five times and was sacked twice.
After 72 percent of the team’s plays were scripted passes, the Gamecocks could opt to run the ball more which could mean more offensive action for Turner, Williams and No. 4 running back Mon Denson.
“We need to run the ball better, but we only gave up three negative runs so it wasn't that there was a lot of negative plays in the run game, only three,” Muschamp said. “But we certainly need to be more productive in the run game. There's no question.”
Missouri gave up 139 yards on the ground last weekend in a 72-43 win over Missouri State. The Tigers allowed more than three yards per carry last Saturday and the Gamecocks could exploit that.
In last year’s game at Williams-Brice, South Carolina ran for 174 yards against the Tigers with Dowdle picking up 149 yards on his own in a 31-21 Gamecock win.
Turner and Dowdle both said the Gamecocks are expecting the Tigers to show a lot of motion along the defensive line to disguise the gaps it will blitz from.
It’ll be something to watch as Saturday’s game goes along to see if Turner and Williams get worked into the rotation and if the running game could be more effective.
“We know we can run the ball against them. We watched their last game against Missouri State,” Turner said. “They put up a lot of points. They also gave up a lot of points, so we’re going to try and take advantage of that.”