South Carolina lost again Saturday, dropping its fifth straight game dating back to last season in a 38-24 defeat at Florida.
The Gamecocks, though, did have an opportunity to make it interesting late, getting the ball back with over eight minutes to go and down two scores with a somewhat quick touchdown making the game more interesting as the clock wound down.
That never materialized with the Gamecocks going on an over-seven-minute drive that didn’t result in points and effectively ended the game with just under a minute left.
"At the end of the day we’re trying to get first downs. They were playing more coverage, staying on top and we weren’t able to get some explosives down the field. We were taking what they were giving us. We still had a minute to play with two timeouts with an onside kick. You have an opportunity to go win the game with a score,” Muschamp said.
“Certainly do we want more time on the clock? Yeah, but you take what they give you in those situations and that’s what we were able to do: stay alive on the drive.”
Officially it was an 18-play, 74-yard drive that took 7:23 off the clock with the Gamecocks turning the ball over on downs after a failed fourth-and-goal attempt with 48 seconds remaining.
On the drive, the Gamecocks watched their chances tick away, averaging 24.6 seconds between snaps, knowing they needed two touchdowns to tie the game.
“Could we have played with a crisper tempo? Yeah, but we were in situations where we made sure we were protected. They were playing coverage and teeing off up front because they knew we were going to throw the football,” Muschamp said. “In those situations they played coverage, they eliminated big plays down the field. We had to take what they gave us. We probably could have played faster at times. In that situation, we were trying to stay on the field and create an explosive but we never got to it.”
Muschamp ended the game with two timeouts in his pocket, two things he said they were saving if they got the ball back after an onside kick.
The offense averaged 4.1 yards per play on the drive with no play going more than 12 yards (a Collin Hill scramble for a first down).
“If they had given us a nine ball we could have thrown and scored really fast, we would have done that. They weren’t. They were staying on top of us in coverage in all situations,” Muschamp said. “We could have played with a crisper pace, especially when it gets to about four minutes in the game, but we were trying to stay on the field to make it a one score game to onside kick it with two timeouts to go try and win the game.”
Outside of the time constraints it put South Carolina under, the drive was somewhat successful, putting the Gamecocks at first-and-goal from the Florida 4-yard line with over a minute to play.
Hill threw four straight incompletions with one being a potential touchdown on fourth down behind an open Shi Smith.
“Shi was wide open. I extended the play and he was wide open,” Hill said. “I have to go back to the film but I could have probably run it in or literally handed him the ball. I missed him. That is not on anybody but me. I take full responsibility for that. It’ll bother me.”
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