Spurrier looking at changes after Gamecocks loss
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier says there are changes ahead - and that's usually not a good thing for his quarterback.
Stephen Garcia threw two interceptions and the 10th-ranked Gamecocks sputtered badly on offense in a 16-13 loss to defending national champion Auburn on Saturday.
Barrett Trotter hit Phillip Lutzenkirchen with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 1:38 left to put the Tigers ahead.
But defense wasn't the issue for South Carolina (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference). Garcia was 9 of 23 for 160 yards and two interceptions. Tailback Marcus Lattimore, the SEC's leading rusher coming in, was held to season lows with 66 yards and 17 carries. The Gamecocks managed a season low 289 yards against an Auburn defense that was ranked last in the SEC coming in.
''We were pretty sad, pretty sad the entire game,'' Spurrier said. ''We couldn't run the ball and we're not a really good passing team.''
That's where Spurrier's changes could begin.
Garcia threw for 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago as South Carolina won its first SEC Eastern Division title. But the fifth-year senior hasn't looked anything like that this season with 844 yards through five games, nine interceptions and just four touchdown passes.
''We need to make some changes,'' Spurrier said. ''But we won't know what they are until we watch the tape.''
Garcia didn't speak with the media following the game, wanting to be with his family in a week when his grandfather died. ''We had a chance to win and we had our chances to keep the lead,'' Garcia said in speaking to South Carolina media officials. ''It just didn't work out for us tonight.''
Auburn (4-1, 2-1) trailed 13-9 in the fourth quarter and couldn't break through on South Carolina's swarming defense. But Gamecocks assistant coach Ellis Johnson said Auburn's fast pace wore down his defenders. That was apparent down the stretch when Barrett led Auburn on a 12-play, 57-yard drive that ended with a pass to wide open Lutzenkirchen in front of the goal line. The junior fumbled the ball into the end zone, then recovered it just before sliding out of bounds to put Auburn ahead.
South Carolina advanced to Auburn's 29 on its final possession before time expired, though Spurrier argued that clock should have stopped with 1 second left after a completed pass for a first down.
Spurrier said he was told that receiver Bruce Ellington's knee touched the ground when the clock had run out. ''That's what he told me. I said, 'Wait a minute now, don't you review that?''' Spurrier said.
They did not, giving the Gamecocks their seventh straight defeat against Auburn.
''It doesn't matter now,'' Spurrier said. ''It's in the history books. So it's all over. We got beat. Still haven't beaten them.''
The SEC issued a statement saying a review of the end showed game officials followed correct procedure.
Auburn used Michael Dyer like Spurrier had used Lattimore this season - a clock-controller who can't be stopped.
Dyer ran for 141 yards on a career-high 41 carries. Dyer, a sophomore like Lattimore, had come into this one with 45 fewer carries than Gamecock standout, who was the SEC's rushing leader.
Lattimore ended with 66 yards on a season-low 17 rushes.
''The defense played good, the offense didn't,'' Lattimore said. ''But we left it at that. We've got to put it behind us.''
It looked like South Carolina's defense would be enough to bail it out of trouble as quarterback Stephen Garcia again had problems putting up points against an Auburn defense that was ranked last in the SEC.
Instead, the Tigers D rose and held the Gamecocks to 54 yards and one first down in the final period. And Trotter and the Tigers found their groove just in time. They converted four third downs in the go-ahead drive, including the touchdown to Lutzenkirchen.
''Holding (Lattimore) to under 100 yard and getting three or four turnovers were the goals this week and we did it and got the win,'' Auburn linebacker Jake Holland said.
Still, when Lattimore broke through for a 15-yard TD run midway through the third quarter, it appeared it might hold up the way South Carolina's defense was playing.
Melvin Ingram had 3 1/2 sacks and one of four South Carolina interceptions.
Trotter was 12 of 23 for 112 yards with two interceptions.
This one looked like a contest of who'd crack first: Auburn's last-in-the-SEC defense or South Carolina's can't-move-the-ball-too-well offensive attack that has struggled to score the past two weeks.
In the first half, it was the Tigers' D that came up bigger than it had this season. They held Lattimore to 36 yards on nine carries and the Gamecocks managed only four first downs on nine first-half possessions.
Garcia, a lightning rod for Gamecock criticism for his inconsistency, was at it again. He was 9 of 23 for 160 yards and two interceptions. Garcia also had a 50-yard scoring throw to Alshon Jeffery.
Usually, it's Lattimore who bails the Gamecocks out but even he didn't look like himself. He fumbled on one drive and could not fight his way through Auburn's charged up defense.
Not that the Tigers had much success with South Carolina's defense, led by Ingram and safety Antonio Allen. Ingram had two of the Gamecocks three first-half sacks and picked off Auburn's chance to extend a 9-6 lead right before halftime.
The Tigers' reliable kicker Cody Parkey was lined up for a 32-yard field goal try with 1:06 left when holder Ryan White took the snap, rolled right and threw toward Lutzenkirchen near the goal line. But defensive end Ingram had dropped back in coverage to end the threat.