COLUMBIA -- As he recapped what went wrong in the second half of South Carolina's loss to LSU, Gamecocks quarterback Stephen Garcia said he should have seen the Tigers' blitzes coming.
Garcia might have been slow to recognize or respond to the blitz in his first college start, but he figures to have plenty of chances to work on it. With four regular-season games remaining, the Gamecocks expect a steady diet of blitzes until they prove they can handle them or they develop a running game to offset the pressure.
After allowing a season-worst six sacks in the 24-17 loss to LSU, USC has given up 30 sacks overall, more than any of the other 118 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said the offensive line is not solely to blame.
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"Sacks are sometimes quarterback, sometimes the line, sometimes the tight end," Spurrier said Sunday. "Sometimes (Garcia) could have thrown it here, but he looked somewhere else, then he held it and took a sack."
"We're not very happy about all that. But we're not going to sit around here and lament on it today. We're going to try to improve on it when we start practicing."
Garcia, a redshirt freshman who did not rejoin the team until Aug. 1 following a suspension, said he believes he will improve against the blitz as he gets more reps.
"They surprised me a couple times. But I should have checked out of it or just threw the ball away instead of getting sacked like that," Garcia said. "I'll learn."
USC will have two weeks to shore up its blitz pick-up. The Gamecocks do not play again until Nov. 1 when Tennessee visits Columbia.
But Spurrier sounded more concerned about fixing a ground game that has yet to produce a 100-yard rushing performance -- as a team, never mind a single back -- in an SEC game.
The Gamecocks were held to 39 yards on 31 carries against the Tigers, a statistic that includes the 49 yards Garcia lost in sacks. Senior Mike Davis, the only back with a 100-yard rushing game (101 against N.C. State) this season, gained 23 yards on 10 carries against LSU.
Eric Baker, the Gamecocks' most elusive back, was supposed to get more touches against the Tigers. But the freshman fumbled when he took a big hit on his first carry, and he did not return.
Spurrier said if the Gamecocks are to become a top-tier SEC program, they must run the ball effectively.
But they have shown few signs of progress: In five conference games, USC has rushed for 301 yards on 145 carries, an average of 60.2 yards per game and 2.1 yards per carry.
"It's all of us," Spurrier said. "Maybe we need some new running plays. Maybe the linemen don't block very well at times. Maybe the running backs don't make people miss very much. Maybe we need to coach better. It's all of us that are involved in the running game that's not very good."
There were bright spots for the offense. For starters, Spurrier appears to have settled on a quarterback. Garcia, the third USC quarterback to start a game this season, completed 14 of 26 passes for a career-high 215 yards and a touchdown.
And though the right-hander had an interception and lost a fumble at the end of a scramble, he continued to play with confidence while displaying arm strength that allows him to make every throw in the playbook -- provided he's not on his back.
"He can make a lot of good throws, but there's a lot that happens all the time," Spurrier said. "But he's got potential, we all know that. And hopefully we can put him in position to play a little bit better against Tennessee here in a couple of weeks."
Ditto for everyone else in the offensive huddle.