Anyone in the national television audience watching the South Carolina football team thump Southern Miss 41-13 in Thursday night’s season opener had to be impressed. The guys on the field playing the Gamecocks came away impressed, too.
Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora conceded his team was soundly beaten.
“They did a heck of a job and played a good game. They were obviously the better team,” Fedora said. “They made the plays that needed to be made, and we didn’t make very many plays in all three phases of the game.”
The USC offense rolled up 449 yards of total offense, 224 on the ground and 225 through the air, with plenty of quick strikes, including Stephen Garcia’s 22-yard run for a score, Alshon Jeffery’s 46-yard reception, and Ace Sanders’ 53-yard run on a reverse.
“We came up short in eliminating the big plays,” Southern Miss linebacker Korey Williams said. “We gave up, I think, four explosive plays that were true game-changers. They accumulated a lot of yards off of those situations. I feel like that was the big key.”
USC’s defensive unit played a key role as well. The Golden Eagles didn’t score a touchdown until late in the game, and they were held to only 67 yards rushing on 27 carries. Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis noted his team ran into a wall.
“We won’t play a better defensive line all season,” Davis said of Cliff Matthews, Devin Taylor, Ladi Ajiboye and Travian Robertson. “To have those guys play well, it’s going to help us down the road. I think we knew they were going to be good upfront.”
Williams believes the Gamecocks are for real.
“They’re a pretty talented team,” he said. “They came out with it. We made too many mistakes, that’s all, and that’s something you can’t have when you’re playing a team of that caliber.”