Erik Kimrey (2000)
Little-known fact – he actually said, “Let’s run 18” when coaches asked what he wanted to do, as he prepared to enter for an injured Petty against Mississippi State. The play was to fade it toward the left sideline. However it was labeled before or after, it worked – the pass was snagged by Jermale Kelly for one of the most memorable touchdowns in USC history. It just sounds more legendary with what he told the announcers afterward – “I can throw the fade, coach.”
Antonio Heffner (2005)
With Blake Mitchell hurt, the job fell to an untested backup to try to break an 0-2 start in the SEC, under first-year coach Steve Spurrier, at Auburn. Heffner had to call timeout before the first snap due to lining up wrong, then a timeout after the first play due to having 10 men on the field. USC lost 48-7. Heffner transferred to Tennessee State.
Tommy Beecher (2008)
He was QB1 throughout spring and summer and finally got to buckle his chinstrap as NC State visited for the season-opener. He threw four interceptions before being knocked out of the game, was replaced by the Chris Smelley/Stephen Garcia rotation and transferred to Liberty.
Bill Troup (1972)
A touted transfer from Virginia, he started the first three games of his only season (all losses) before being relegated to backup duty. Despite a sour year, he carved out a decent NFL career, playing five years for Baltimore and Green Bay with 11 starts in 1978.
Dickie DeMasi (1989)
Career passing leader Todd Ellis went down with a knee injury in the eighth game of the season, handing the reins to DeMasi. Having attempted just 14 passes in his two-plus seasons, DeMasi wasn’t nearly ready. He was 25-for-60 for 237 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions as USC lost three of its final four, culminating with a 45-0 humiliation at Clemson.
Wright Mitchell/Blake Williamson (1992)
They split starts in the first five games, all losses, and then came The Moment. Fed up with the way the season was going, the team voted 62-24 for coach Sparky Woods to resign. Woods told them he’d see them at practice, and had already made one decision for the next game – freshman Steve Taneyhill would start. The brash ponytailed rookie led the Gamecocks to wins in five of their last six games.
Vic Penn (1997)
Like DeMasi, Penn got the job when the starter was injured (Anthony Wright hurt a knee at Tennessee). Facing defending national champ Florida in his first game and Clemson in his second, Penn had no chance to succeed. He transferred to UCF, where he had a solid two-year career.
Mikal Goodman/Kevin Sides (1999)
Part of the carousel in a winless, injury-riddled season, Goodman started three games and Sides two as Phil Petty recovered from a knee injury. Lou Holtz started three QBs and played three more (Kyle Crabb, Josh Rogers, even Carlos Spikes had three pass attempts) as the Gamecocks fielded one of the country’s worst offenses.