Notebook: Personnel losses hurting defense
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Defensive lineman Ladi Ajiboye kept it simple. Saturday's game between South Carolina and Arkansas came down to one word – finishing.
The Razorbacks did, the Gamecocks didn't.
Behind an opportunistic offense, Arkansas racked up 405 yards, 17 first downs and 33 points in a 33-16 win against a depleted South Carolina defense. Despite being a bit understaffed, Ajiboye wasn't up for making excuses.
"We're really frustrated right now. We made a lot of mistakes, we really killed ourselves. I give it to Arkansas," Ajiboye said. "They finished the game and we didn't. Ain't too much we can say but we made mistakes."
The Gamecocks and Razorbacks looked to be locked up in a defensive struggle to start the game. But a screen pass to Broderick Green went for 39 yards to set up Arkansas' first score, which came one play later on a Joe Adams 18-yard run for a 7-3 lead.
Carolina responded to retake the advantage at 10-7 and looked to be heading into the halftime locker room with the lead. But Ryan Mallett's dump off pass to D.J. Williams turned into a back breaker as Williams shook off tacklers for 69 yards to set up a field goal as time expired to tie the game.
While the tie was important, it was the momentum that had USC worried.
"Other than two dumb plays, we did a hell of a job in the first half. But it's those two plays. You throw the ball minus-four yards and end up with 30 yards and you throw a ball four yards and end up with 60 yards," defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "We take those two plays out of it, but that's football. You can't take those two plays out of it. You can take a touchdown and maybe a field goal off the board and that loomed pretty big at the end."
The Hogs took advantage of the Gamecocks' lack of depth in the second half as Chris Culliver was serving a one-game benching while Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson and Rodney Paulk are all sidelined with injuries.
The numbers game caught up with the unit as a handful of players made their first appearances in game action for the season. The fresh legs didn't do much for the Gamecock defense as Arkansas controlled the clock in the second half with over 10 minutes of time in the third quarter and more than nine and half more in the fourth.
Ajiboye attributes the absences as a major reason the Gamecocks were in the position they were in.
"It affected us a lot. He's an impact to the team, he makes plays and that's exactly what we needed in this game and it wasn't there so we fell short," Ajiboye. "It's not just the defense, it's the team period. Those guys are impacts and it just hurts us, and the people that were out there we just made mistakes."
Jeffery, Garcia continue torrid paces
Freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery had his third 100-yard receiving day of the season with 116 yards on five catches. He now has 613 for the season with 552 coming over the last five games.
Garcia, the man throwing him the ball, finished 20-of-34 for a career-high 327 yards to make himself the only SEC quarterback with four 300-yard passing games this season. For his career, Garcia now has 3,236 yards passing, which moved him up four spots in the all-time USC record books. He is now 10th all-time.
Not on my special teams Opposing teams are 0-for-3 against the Gamecocks this season in trying to execute fake punts for first down yardage. Ole Miss and Kentucky were the other two squads who attempted fakes.
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