Top 10 photos from South Carolina vs. NC State
1. South Carolina’s football team has opened six consecutive seasons against an opponent from a Power Five conference. Saturday’s 35-28 win against N.C. State moved USC to 5-1 in those games, with two wins against North Carolina, two against Vanderbilt and an infamous loss to Texas A&M.
2. USC’s staff wasted no time with its newcomers, tearing the redshirts off six freshmen – wide receivers Shi Smith, Chad Terrell and OrTre Smith, defensive back Jamyest Williams, defensive end Aaron Sterling and linebacker Sherrod Green – and two junior college players, defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and linebacker Eldridge Thompson.
3. Beyond that group, a few other Gamecocks made on-field debuts. That included holder/quarterback Danny Gordon (a walk-on transfer), snapper Ben Asbury, punter Joseph Charlton, tailback Ty’Son Williams (UNC transfer), running back Mon Denson, kicker Alex Woznick, kicker Parker White and tight end Evan Hinson (on special teams).
4. There was a lot of discussion about how USC would split its carries, but in Week 1, it was Rico Dowdle’s show. He was on the field for 38 of the team’s 50 snaps and for all or part of eight of South Carolina’s 10 drives. Behind him, Ty’Son Williams and A.J. Turner got six snaps apiece.
5. After a rough first half, South Carolina’s defense locked down in the third quarter. The Wolfpack ran 20 plays in the quarter, and only three came on South Carolina’s side of the 50-yard line. That primarily happened because the Gamecocks had to punt out of bad field position after a mishandled punt return.
6. The Gamecocks gave up three touchdowns in N.C. State’s first five drives, allowing another to get to the USC 10 before a missed field goal. The Wolfpack only managed one score on its final eight times with the ball.
7. Will Muschamp said he understood Chris Lammons was just trying to make a play when he mishandled a third-quarter punt. The booming kick (60 yards from line of scrimmage to where it landed) forced the returner back, and he tried to reach back for the ball. He ended up dropping it and falling on it on the 3 to avoid a turnover. The ensuing stop and punt gave N.C. State a short field for its only touchdown of the half.
8. When South Carolina first sent extra defensive backs on the field, it kept Lammons at safety and put Williams in the nickel spot. After N.C. State tested him a few times, safety Steven Montac, who was hurt for much of camp, came in and let Lammons slide to nickel. But Williams showed enough, he was on the field for much or all of USC’s last two defensive drives.
9. South Carolina offensive coordinator Kurt Roper spent the first half coaching on the sidelines, presumably because of issues with coaches’ headsets not working. He then went to the box for the second half.
10. Saturday saw first starts for a pair of young South Carolina defenders, and both showed well. Defensive end D.J. Wonnum might be up to replacing Darius English, collecting a sack and three tackles for loss. Linebacker T.J. Brunson, a Richland Northeast product, had 16 tackles, 1 1/2 for loss, and at least one big third-down stop. All told, USC had four sacks and 11 tackles for loss, which both matched last year’s season highs.