3. Improving sustained drives
A fitting nickname for the 2019 Gamecocks could be the “blown lead bunch”. In six of the Gamecocks’ eight losses, they were out front at intermission. Second halves were largely a tale of stalled drives and miscues, with a particular painful error being Tennessee’s blocked punt return for a touchdown en route to a 41-21 win over the Gamecocks.
The fall-from-ahead losses were a result of an inability to sustain drives, turnovers and defensive miscues. The second-half woes reflect overall spotty offensive performance in 2019.
Occasionally, Ryan Hilinski was able to produce long passes to the likes of Bryan Edwards and Kyle Markway. Usually, these passes failed to connect, and running backs like Rico Dowdle either found running room or the training room.
The Gamecocks will need to learn how to keep drives alive in 2020. To do that the running game must find consistency. This task is made difficult by the departure of both Dowdle and Tavien Feaster. Returning Gamecock running backs such as Deshawn Fenwick and Kevin Harris have next to no experience, and will face a trial by fire against the likes of LSU and Georgia. Carolina will count on four-star RB Marshawn Lloyd to make an immediate impact.
Whether it’s Luke Doty or Hilinski at the wheel of the Gamecocks’ offense, they will need to master the intermediate passing game. The loss of big targets Kyle Markway and Bryan Edwards does them no favors, but Josh Vann, Nick Muse, and Randrecous Davis are not bad guys to have around; if they can stay healthy.