ATHENS, Ga. — Linebackers coach Kirk Botkin and defensive line coach Deke Adams showed some fight Saturday as South Carolina was trying to stop Georgia from looking like Oregon.
That part of the Gamecocks’ brain trust fought with each other on the sideline.
“At least they care,” head coach Steve Spurrier said when informed of the scrap after the Gamecocks’ 41-30 loss at Sanford Stadium.
Botkin and Adams had to be separated by defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward and free safety Brison Williams.
“Heat of the moment,” Ward said. “They’re good.”
There weren’t many good moments for the South Carolina defense. No. 11 Georgia is talented, and its offense played well enough to win last week in a 38-35 loss at Clemson.
But the No. 6 team in the country shouldn’t be giving up a balanced onslaught of 536 yards (309 passing for Aaron Murray, 227 rushing).
The loss between the hedges puts South Carolina between a rock and a hard place in the SEC East standings.
“Over-rated!” Georgia fans shouted late in the game.
This isn’t the 2012 Gamecock defense that allowed an average of 315.5 yards per game. Quarterback Connor Shaw, running back Mike Davis and a gritty offensive line deserved better support for nearly keeping up with the Bulldogs.
“I look out there and I see all those either redshirt freshmen or second-year guys and I’m starting to wonder if we were expecting a little bit much out of all those guys,” Spurrier said.
Expect personnel and scheme adjustments before next week’s home game against Vanderbilt.
“We’re going to change our defense,” the Head Ball Coach said. “We’re not going to stand there like we did today. I’ll give Coach Ward some suggestions.”
One of Spurrier’s first suggestions: Somebody make a play, the way hard-hitting safety D.J. Swearinger so often did before moving on to the NFL’s Houston Texans.
“I think we have good football players,” Ward said. “I’m not going to put this loss on youth or any particular player. This is all of us on defense.”
If Jadeveon Clowney can’t do it all, you’d think the other guys could do more. He finished with one sack, two tackles for lost yardage and three total tackles. Not bad, considering Georgia tried hard to avoid the junior defensive end.
“At any point in time, any one of us can make a big play,” Georgia wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley said. “I really think that it helps keep the defense off balance.”
Comforting thought: Georgia is the best offense South Carolina will see, at least until the Nov. 30 home game against Clemson. That South Carolina apparently has an SEC schedule advantage over Georgia this year has been thoroughly documented (SEC West foes Arkansas and Mississippi State for the Gamecocks, LSU and Auburn for Georgia).
Uncomfortably, there is no room for error, plenty of room for improvement.
“They just pounded us up front,” Clowney said. “No excuses. …We came into the game saying we had to stop the run and we didn’t do that.”
Give the guy credit for playing hard and hurt. Clowney in the second half was hobbled by a sore ankle. But he was the least classy Gamecock after the game, the only South Carolina player to run off the field well ahead of teammates busy congratulating the Bulldogs.
Just another heat of the moment mistake on a long, hot day in Athens.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff