Nunez saving grace for sputtering Gamecocks offense

PHOTO: CHRIS GILLESPIE

PHOTO: CHRIS GILLESPIE

In the desolate wasteland that was the Georgia game, there was one saving grace for the sputtering South Carolina offense: Lorenzo Nunez.

The offensive was clunking along during the first half, struggling behind the inconsistent play of Perry Orth. While Orth hit some passes early on, completing four of his first five passes, he went 2-for-12 the rest of the way.

Then comes in Lorenzo Nunez.

While he played some in the first half on Wildcat and read-option plays, he seemed to settle the offense down and helped it move down the field.

On both the Gamecocks’ scoring drives, the true freshman led the team down the field, first 72 yards and on the final touchdown drive he took them 54 yards.

The first touchdown drive, he brought the team into the red zone but gave way for Perry Orth who finished the drive in the end zone, but it was Nunez who commanded the team for the majority of the nine-play drive.

Nunez, who came primarily to run the ball, scampered for 76 yards and threw for 18 yards on four completions.  He averaged 7.1 yards per carry and 4.5 yards per completion and finished with a quarterback rating of 110.2.

He was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher and had the second-most rushing yards of anyone in the game behind only Georgia Heisman contender Nick Chubb.

Nunez was responsible for 36 percent of the Gamecocks 258 total yards in comparison to Orth’s roughly 25 percent.

He looked to lead the team well, and he seemed in control of the offense to some degree.

Which is why Steve Spurrier should think about starting Nunez for the Gamecocks’ home game this week against Central Florida.

Perry Orth is a reliable quarterback who is going to put up middle-of-the-road numbers and play relatively mistake-free football. But Orth is a junior who will be leaving the program in a few years. Nunez has four years left and could be a catalyst for the Gamecock offense.

While he doesn’t have full mastery of the playbook, a simplified game plan to get him more comfortable with the plays against a subpart Knights team.

His dual-threat ability could be the answer to a struggling offense, and his execution running the read option is an interesting wrinkle for the Gamecocks.

It could be good for attendance, too. South Carolina is 1-2 and has lost their first two SEC games for the first time since 2008. While most fans will be loyal and come out for a noon game against a team from a non-power five conference, students may be less inclined to trek to Williams-Brice for the early start.

But, if there was some intriguing storyline, like Nunez starting, you may see more students willing to come out for that game.

So while Perry Orth has seniority over Nunez, it may be time to delve into the Gamecocks’ fountain of youth to resurrect the offense.