Spurs up, spurs down: Instant reaction from USC-UGA college football game

What went right and wrong for South Carolina during the Gamecocks’ 24-14 loss to No. 1 Georgia on Saturday at Sanford Stadium:

Spurs up

The Gamecocks’ opening drive

Quarterback Spencer Rattler and the Gamecocks came out firing on the first drive, going with four- and five-receiver sets.

Rattler went 8-of-8 on the 10 play, 65-yard drive and finished it off with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Antwane Wells. It was just the third time Georgia has allowed an opening-drive touchdown since 2020.

TJ Sanders

Sophomore TJ Sanders had his best day as a Gamecock on Saturday. The former Marion High standout was a force on the defensive line against the run and pass.

Sanders finished with nine tackles (eight solo), two tackles for loss and a sack.

First-half Spencer Rattler

The Gamecocks’ signal caller continued his solid play to start the season — at least in the first half. Rattler completed his first 10 passes of the game, and USC led 14-3 at halftime. He finished with 256 yards passing (22 of 42) but was under duress for much of the second half. He also threw his first two interceptions of the year late in the game.

Nick Emmanwori

The sophomore safety returned to the lineup from injury and was a big factor in the Gamecocks secondary. The former Irmo standout was second for South Carolina with 10 tackles.

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) drops back for a pass during the first half of the Gamecocks’ game at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, September 15, 2023.

Spurs down

Juice injured

Antwane “Juice” Wells looked to be back to his old self on the first drive with two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown. But right after the score, Wells hobbled to the sideline into the injury tent. Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer said on the TV broadcast that Wells might have broken a bone in his foot, the same one he had a screw put into in the offseason.

Wells was the second starting receiver the Gamecocks were missing Saturday. Ahmarean Brown missed the game with a hamstring injury.

Second half

After a solid first half, the Gamecocks couldn’t do much right in the third and fourth quarters. South Carolina punted in its only two drives of the third while Georgia marched down and scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 17-14 lead.

Georgia added another scoring drive in the fourth. South Carolina had just 32 yards of total offense in the second half with nine minutes left in the game.

Running game

The Gamecocks never established a ground game, similar to what happened in the loss to North Carolina. South Carolina averaged just 2.6 yards on 14 carries in the game. Rattler was the team’s most effective runner, picking up yards on quarterback scrambles.

Missed chances

South Carolina put together a good series with its second drive in the third quarter and got to the UGA 31 and were in field goal range. But the Bulldogs sacked Rattler, who probably could have thrown it away and gave USC a chance at three points.

The Gamecocks also had a chance to extend a drive in the fourth quarter, but a drop by Trey Knox prevented that.