South Carolina football: five takeaways from the season opener

A general view of Williams-Brice Stadium. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
A general view of Williams-Brice Stadium. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /
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Defensive linemen Aaron Sterling #15 and Kingsley Enagbare #52 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

The South Carolina football team must continue to improve in key areas.

4. Offensive line play must improve.

The offensive line appeared to be the most stable group on the South Carolina offense heading into the 2020 season. They didn’t play that way on Saturday.

The unit failed to open up holes for Gamecock running backs, who registered just 105 yards on 26 carries. The Gamecocks’ longest run of the night was 13 yards. Without the threat of the run, the Tennessee front seven was able to pin their ears back and rush the passer.

Carolina quarterback Collin Hill was sacked four times as a result. He was also pressured heavily on his lone interception, which was returned for a Tennessee score. The group will have to improve drastically if they hope to have a chance at winning next week.

5. South Carolina’s front seven will be fine.

The Gamecocks did concede 31 points Saturday night, but that didn’t tell the story of the game. Seven of those points came on a Tennessee pick-six. Seventeen points came after half with the Gamecocks playing down a man in the secondary.

The front seven held their own against a Tennessee team that’s thought to have one of the best offensive line units in the conference. Ernest Jones and JJ Enagbare were studs, combining for 20 tackles, three tackles for loss, and a couple of sacks. Zacch Pickens played well up front, too, recording five takedowns from his defensive tackle position, while Jabari Ellis and freshman Jordan Burch each tallied a tackle for loss.

The Gamecocks didn’t play perfect on defense, but if they can shore up the back end of the unit, the group should be fine. The more experience the defense gets under its belt, the more productive they will be. They’ll have a tough task next weekend when they face off versus Kyle Trask and the Florida Gators.