COLUMBIA - In South Carolina's 27-24 comeback football win over Tennessee at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, it was very apparent the Gamecocks wanted to establish the run game early and often, …
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COLUMBIA - In South Carolina's 27-24 comeback football win over Tennessee at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, it was very apparent the Gamecocks wanted to establish the run game early and often, and they did just that.
"I thought for the first time in a league (Southeastern Conference) game, we consistently made guys miss, and that's what we need to do to have the success we want to have running the football," South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said. "We had some explosive plays."
"I think we came out with the attitude knowing we wanted to run the ball; I think everyone was on the same page tonight," junior center Donell Stanley said. "We were communicating well. We took the bye week as an opportunity to focus heavily on the run game, and we were able to show it tonight. We just need to keep working on the run game."
As a team, the Gamecocks ran the ball 40 times for a total of 224 yards and two scores on the ground.
"We check more run to run," Muschamp said, "which obviously slows us down in tempo a little bit, but I thought we were very effective with the tempo in the second half, and that helped us tremendously in the run game, got them out of kilter a little bit defensively, bounced them out of some gaps."
South Carolina junior running back Rico Dowdle led the Gamecocks' ground attack with 140 yards rushing on 14 carries and a touchdown.
"I think we have to come out and do it again next week," Dowdle said of the Gamecocks, who play at Mississippi on Saturday noon. "We need to come out with the same mindset that we had tonight. We need to hit the gaps and continue to make guys miss at the first and second level. We have to come out and do the same thing we did tonight every Saturday."
Former Crestwood High School standout running back Ty'Son Williams also turned in a good performance, running the ball 13 times for 34 yards and a score.
"I think Ty'Son has done a nice job," Muschamp said. "He's practiced well. So much for us goes into how you practice."
Muschamp decided to start Williams over Dowdle, but Dowdle was unphased by the decision.
"I didn't take any offense to it; like I've said before, all our running backs are talented, and we all have the ability to start," Dowdle said. "We all have our strengths, and we just use our abilities to help out the team in any way we can. Coach made the decision to start Ty'Son tonight, and that is his decision, so I did not take it as a slap to the face or anything like that."
Also contributing to the run game was junior running back Mon Denson, who finished with 30 yards on six touches.
"Finally, he's getting healthy," Muschamp said of Denson.
Junior quarterback Jake Bentley also had 20 yards on four carries.
"Jake kept the ball several times, which has always helped us be more effective in the run game," Muschamp said.
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