COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina-UMass may not be the game for you, not if you're looking for a lot of offense.
The Gamecocks (2-4) and Minutemen (1-6), who play Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, are two or the worst offenses in the country. Both teams are in the bottom six of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision teams when it comes to scoring. UMass is 118th in the country at 19.7 points a game while South Carolina is dead last at 14 points a contest.
First-year Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp has had to bite his lip and focus on the positives instead of his team's lack of offense .
''There is a lot of encouragement as far as those guys are going to continue to improve and get better,'' he said. ''Does it sometimes get you a little upset about where things are? Certainly, but I also try to keep some perspective about where we are and we're going to continue to improve.''
Part of that process could be a change at quarterback and scrapping the redshirt plans for highly regarded South Carolina freshman quarterback Jake Bentley. The 6-foot-3, 223-pound Bentley was targeted to spend the season on the sidelines after giving up his senior season in high school – Bentley turns 19 next month – to enroll at South Carolina.
But the lack of attack has Muschamp and quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper searching for any answers to turn around the season.
Muschamp, as he has all season, was tight-lipped about his starting QB. Senior Perry Orth started three games while freshman Brandon McIlwain, who enrolled in January, started the others. Neither has been able to consistently move the Gamecocks.
''We are not in it to just play close. We want to win games,'' he said. ''That's what I've challenged our guys about, really straining and focusing for those six or eight plays whenever they come in the game to make a difference in those situations.''
UMass understands that too well, tight end Andrew Breneman said.
''I think we could look at every game we have played and say what could have been,'' he said. ''There were way too many mistakes from everyone, offense and defense.''
Some other things to watch when South Carolina plays UMass
DE-FENSE: South Carolina has been better than expected at keeping opponents out of the end zone, sixth in the Southeastern Conference at 20.2 points given up a game. Gamecocks defensive end Darius English said the team worked on basics during its bye last week and feel refreshed headed into the season's second half.
SEC TOUGH: Massachusetts is facing its third Southeastern Conference opponent this season after throwing scares into Florida and Mississippi State. The Minutemen trailed the Gators 10-7 heading into the fourth quarter before losing 24-7. UMass was up 14-13 at halftime on Mississippi State before the Bulldogs took control with 28 points in the third quarter for a 47-35 victory. This is Massachusetts first game with South Carolina. UMass received $1.25 million for its trip to Florida and will get $1.5 million for playing the Gamecocks.
YOUNG GAMECOCKS: The Gamecocks hope to continue bringing along their young offensive players. Freshman A.J. Turner is the team's leading rusher with 300 yards. Sophomore Deebo Samuel and freshman Bryan Edwards, both starting receivers, returned from injuries last game against Georgia and combined for seven catches for 125 yards. Samuel also had a 9-yard TD run against the Bulldogs.
FORD TOUGH: Sophomore quarterback Andrew Ford has thrown for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions in four starts for Massachusetts. He hit his first 11 passes a week ago in a 56-28 loss to Louisiana Tech last week.
BOWL CHANCES: South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he's spoken with the team about its goals of playing in a bowl game this season – one that must start by beating UMass. A win would equal its victory total from a season ago. Even if the Gamecocks win, getting to six wins to make the postseason will be difficult with SEC games against No. 18 Tennessee, Missouri and No. 15 Florida and a rivalry game at No. 4 Clemson.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org