The South Carolina Gamecocks are 2-0. That’s what the box score will read. Thankfully, it spares us from the details of an anemic offense, a myriad of penalties, and a shaky offensive line. On the bright side, the defense scored yet another pick-six, and the front seven looks like a force to be reckoned with. Damani Staley, the son of Gamecock great Duce Staley, took one to the house for South Carolina and was the only bright spot in an otherwise dreadful first half.
ECU came out swinging and knew they would need big plays to beat what was supposed to be a superior team on Saturday, scoring on a trick play within 11 seconds of the opening kick. Other than that, the East Carolina offense struggled, totaling 268 yards of total offense, and throwing for two interceptions. Defensively, both teams were impressive, forcing a total of 5 turnovers throughout the game.
There were some bright spots on offense for South Carolina that were certainly easy to overlook if you weren’t paying attention to Saturday. Freshman running back Juju McDowell had 11 carries for 71 yards, which was a career-high. He had 45 rushing yards on the game-winning drive alone. McDowell also recorded the longest kickoff return for South Carolina since 2018, a 63-yard return that set up the Gamecocks game-winning drive. Josh Vann also had five catches for 91 yards in yesterday’s win, both being career highs. And let us not forget, super senior kicker, Parker White. He connected on his sixth career game-winning field goal.
With today’s victory, the Gamecocks move to 2-0 for the first time since 2017, and coach Shane Beamer becomes just the second coach in USC history to start his career 2-0. While things certainly weren’t pretty, the Gamecocks showed heart and fought for a road victory.
It will be interesting to see who the Gamecocks start at quarterback next week against #2 Georgia on the road. While Zeb Noland has filled in admirably for Luke Doty, he is not the long-term answer at QB for the Gamecocks. It is concerning that Doty has not taken any meaningful snaps this season. Georgia’s defense is loaded with talent, and if Doty isn’t fully healthy, that will not be the game to trot him out there. I believe it will be Zeb Noland’s show early and potentially look to move to Doty as the game allows.
While it was not the game most fans expected, a win is a win. Now on to Georgia.