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November 23, 2013

Opposing view: 'We got beat up front'

Coastal Carolina's players had expectations to give No. 12 South Carolina a game, but they don't plan to wallow in the disappointment of their 70-10 defeat at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday afternoon.

The Chanticleers remain 10-1 on the season -- as games against FBS opponents don't affect FCS records -- clinched the Big South Conference title, and will sit back and watch the FCS playoff selection show tomorrow to see where they are placed.

Sophomore quarterback Alex Ross, who completed 15 of 25 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and one interception, said he enjoyed playing in front of 81,411 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

"It was a good environment to play in, it was fun, it was an elite FBS football program," Ross said. "We've just got to take it in, learn from it and see what we've got to do better on offense."

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Coastal Carolina was held to 294 yards of total offense and 10 points, both of which were well below the team's season averages. Ross said it was frustrating not to be able to execute their offense the way they're used to, but he thinks the Chanticleers can use the experience of playing an elite defense as a learning experience.

"We're going into the playoffs starting next week," Ross said. "We're going to face some good defenses. We're going to have to take away what we can from it and see where we can execute better and just move on from this."

Senior wide receiver Matt Hazel, who caught six passes for 83 yards in the game, said it felt good to play on a large stage for the first time, but, like Ross, it bothered him that the Chanticleers didn't execute the way they wanted.

"It was a big game. We wanted to pull of the upset, but it didn't happen," Hazel said. "Like Alex said, we weren't 100 percent executing right, and it's tough."

Hazel, whom Steve Spurrier said earlier this week could play wide receiver in the SEC, was impressed with South Carolina's secondary and Victor Hampton in particular.

"They're an excellent cover team," Hazel said. "Victor Hampton, man, he's one of the best corners that I've ever faced. He's quick, strong, physical, and just a great player."

Senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, who entered the game with 1466 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns on the season, was limited to 21 yards on ten carries against the Gamecocks. Taliaferro said South Carolina was a tough matchup for Coastal Carolina up front, and that winning in the trenches gave the Gamecocks the edge.

"We got beat up front," said Taliaferro, who also said he wasn't surprised. "I think we matched up well skill position-wise, but I think the difference for an FBS team is the offensive and defensive line."

Senior defensive back LaDarius Hawthorne said size was another factor that played into the blowout.

"They were really good at what they did," Hawthorne said. "They were really big all around the board. They outsized us, but at the same time, we had some expectations to stop some of the things that they did, and we weren't able to do that."

Coastal Carolina will find out tomorrow if it will get a bye in the first round of the FCS playoffs, but are excited to move past the loss at South Carolina and get started on preparing for their playoff run.

"We know we've got the selection show tomorrow," said Hazel. "This is not our last game of the season. We've still got a little game to play. It hurts a little, but we're going to go forward."

Hawthorne agreed, noting the game's lack of real impact on Coastal Carolina's season.

"We know we've got other business to take care of, and that's the most important business of our season," Hawthorne said. "We have to move onto that and start handling it as soon as possible."

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