It would have been tempting to look at the scoreboard at halftime, see that the South Carolina Gamecocks were only leading by a 17-9 score, and think to yourself "well, damn, maybe we can?"
You would have been wrong to think so, as the Old Ball Coach eventually whipped his team into shape. This was a game of so many missed opportunities, and it was only a matter of time before one team or the other started converting chances and eliminating mistakes. That team was South Carolina, which resulted in an eventual 37-12 defeat for South Alabama.
I'm pretty sure that you could ask anyone and they would agree that while USA was 6-4 and USC was 5-5 going into the game, these two teams were not of equal caliber - especially given all the injuries the Jaguars have struggled with lately. Perhaps it's just me, but I'm confident that when you are playing a team that is more talented than you, you need to hit the gas pedal as often as you can if you want to have any chance of keeping the game close or even pulling an upset.
For instance, going for it on fourth and two from the three yard line instead of kicking a field goal on your opening drive. That way, whenever you find yourself surrendering a sack on first and goal from the six on your second offensive possession, you can take your lumps with a field goal and still find the score tied at 10 instead of trailing 10-6.
So after two drives, Hunter Vaughn was 10-of-13 for 110 yards, the Jags had gained positive yardage on 19 of 25 plays (also, they had run 25 plays at this point) but had only a 10-6 deficit to show for it. Generally it bodes well for the defense who is gradually figuring you out that you haven't produced when you had the chance.
This turned out to be true, as Vaughn completed all of his next six passes, but three of them were completions to South Carolina defenders, and one was returned for a touchdown. As ugly as those throws were, the Jags were still even in the turnover ratio despite Vaughn's three interceptions thanks to some strong defense. However, they trailed17-9 after Aleem Sulanon's third field goal from inside of 30 yards closed out the first half.
That drive saw Brandon Bridge enter at quarterback, a trend that would continue into the second half. This lasted one whole quarter, at which point Bridge was 2-for-11 for 19 yards and Vaughn went back in. Two plays later, he tossed his fourth interception of the game, negating what small glimmer of hope might have been remaining.
You can pretty much delineate this game into two chunks. In the first chunk, the USA passing game was (as mentioned above) 10-for-13 for 110 yards. In the second chunk, Vaughn and Bridge combined to go 7-for-21 for 60 yards and four interceptions. Vaughn did not play well - his first interception was the only ball thrown within five yards of a teammate, and that was a lazy screen that was snatched for a score. Bridge was only better in that he didn't get intercepted, but this whole game was just a mess for the Jaguars.
They were 15 yards of offense away from having a 21-17 lead over the Gamecocks at halftime, which is unfortunately the most positive thing you can say about this one. They will now attempt to reload for a Friday night home game against Navy in an attempt to finish out the season with a winning record.