South Carolina Football: The Gamecocks are a weird statistical team; No, that’s not a good thing

South Carolina football Head Coach Shane Beamer and his team continue to be doubted despite improving every season. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]
South Carolina football Head Coach Shane Beamer and his team continue to be doubted despite improving every season. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] /

Shane Beamer’s South Carolina football team is a difficult team to figure out. Not only are they inconsistent, but the Gamecocks are a team full of statistical oddities.

For example:

South Carolina football is really bad on both lines of scrimmage. The offensive line has surrendered the second-most sacks in Power-5 college football and (other than one 75-yard run) is blocking for less than three yards per carry this season, but true freshman left tackle Tree Babalade was 247Sports’ National True Freshman of the Week against Georgia.

Carolina also ranks in the bottom-10 in college football in sacks allowed (25) and tackles for loss allowed (43). The offense ranks exactly 99th in the country in both 3rd down success rate and 4th down success rate but is somehow worse at stopping their opponents on defense (101st on 3rd down, 115th on 4th down).

The defensive line gets gashed by the run, but the Gamecocks had back-to-back weeks with a defensive tackle in garnet and black being named the SEC’s Defensive Lineman of the Week when TJ Sanders and Boogie Huntley took home the honors in week 3 and week 4, respectively.

The Gamecocks have won more SEC weekly honors (4) than they have wins (2) as Spencer Rattler has won two SEC Offensive Player of the Week awards, as well.

The Gamecocks also have a pretty good pass defense. Starting corners Marcellas Dial and O’Donnell Fortune have had good years in coverage on the outside, but Carolina can’t figure out the nickel spot and gave up almost 500 yards passing to one of the worst passing offenses in the SEC in Mississippi State.

South Carolina football has had one of the best wide receivers in all of college football thanks to the emergence of Xavier Legette. However, in all, the Gamecocks have not gotten the play they’ve needed from pass catchers other than Xavier Legette. Legette has 606 yards through five games (2nd-most ever in Gamecock history to start a season). The rest of the receivers have 629.

Legette has the most targets in America this season without dropping a pass (38), but the Gamecocks rank among the worst teams in the country in dropping catchable balls as the players with the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most catches on the team (Trey Knox, DK Joyner, and Ahmarean Brown) all have multiple drops.

The Gamecock offense is among the leaders nationally in pass plays over 30 yards (10) but is 69th in football in yards per completion. Spencer Rattler ranks in the top-15 in Power-5 in passing yards, but he only has 7 touchdowns. Legette ranks 4th nationally in receiving, but he’s only found the end zone on 3 occasions.

USC has two of their top-3 running backs averaging 2.5 yards per carry or less, and Spencer Rattler would be the team’s second-leading rusher if it weren’t for the fact that he has lost 131 yards on sacks.

Linebacker Debo Williams had 25 tackles against Georgia and North Carolina, but in the Gamecocks’ other three games combined, he’s got 11. Similarly, Stone Blanton had 10 stops against North Carolina but has averaged just 4 per game since.

Clayton White’s defensive unit is one of just two in the Power-5 (along with Colorado) that ranks 95th or worse in the country in points allowed, yards allowed, and 3rd/4th down success rate.

The Gamecocks are winning the turnover battle this season and are penalized fewer times than their opponents (and for less yardage). The Gamecocks have only missed one kick, have a better red zone scoring percentage than their opponents, and have more 50+ yard touchdowns than their opponents. Yet South Carolina has a losing record and has been outscored this season.

Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, most of these statistical oddities aren’t just weird, they are damaging to a football team’s success.

The South Carolina football team is on their Bye Week this Saturday but will look to right the ship when they welcome the Florida Gators to Williams-Brice Stadium next week for a 3:30 kickoff. The game will be broadcast on the SECNetwork and ESPN app.

***Stats found and compared at