Three things we learned from the Gamecocks victory over Ole Miss
1. The drama of it all
South Carolina’s 48-44 win at Ole Miss had so much. So many swings. So many big plays. After Deebo Samuel’s game-opening return, USC went up 17-3 and then gave up a 27-10 run. In the final 31 minutes, there were four lead changes, one tie, a blown 10-point lead and offense all over.
2. Jake gets rolling
There’s a pretty good argument Gamecocks QB Jake Bentley just posted the best game of his career. He had his second-most yards ever (363) and second-best rating (184.7). He led the team on a comeback, scored the go-ahead touchdown and generally did what was needed to boost his squad.
3. The injuries
This wasn’t really something one missed as much as something one just lost track of. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp did, simply punting on his postgame injury report. The group of players who missed time or got knocked out included tailbacks Rico Dowdle (foot), Ty’Son Williams, left tackle Malik Young, defensive lineman Aaron Sterling and, for stretches, defensive backs Javon Charleston, Jamyest Williams, Steven Montac, R.J. Roderick and defensive end Bryson Allen-Williams. Sunday he Muschamp announced Williams and Charleston were lost for the season.
4. The late defense
South Carolina’s defense got stung for 616 yards. Ole Miss went up-tempo, hit USC on RPO after RPO. And then suddenly, it stopped. In the fourth quarter, the Gamecocks allowed 16 yards on the final four drives. It allowed USC to score the final 14 points and take the victories. Will Muschamp and players said the change came when the team went to more man coverage and managed to hold up.
5. The Freshmen
South Carolina played eight true freshmen against the Rebels, including Dylan Wonnum and Jaycee Horn as starters. Other freshmen who played were R.J. Roderick, Josh Vann, Israel Mukuamu, Rosendo Louis Jr., Kingsley Enagbare, Rick Sandidge. Redshirt freshmen who played included Jaylin Dickerson, Eric Douglas, M.J. Webb. Dickerson got his first real action on defense as injuries struck USC’s safety position.
6. Air Ty’Son
Williams didn’t have a banner day on the ground, but he was a terror through the air. His 50-yard screen set up USC’s second touchdown, which he ran in. He added receptions of 24 and 31 yards, for the rare 100-yard receiving game for a running back.
7. Deebo breaks one
Samuel caught the attention of the sport with his pair of kickoff return touchdowns in the first two games last season. His presence had changed the way opponents kick to the Gamecocks, but USC fans had been waiting for another score. He delivered, catching a bouncing ball, shooting through the coverage and shaking a kicker to the ground on the way to his fourth career kick return score. He later added a return that let USC start in Ole Miss territory.
8. Mon’s Motivation
South Carolina tailback Mon Denson was called upon late in the game as the two tailbacks were sidelined. He broke a 69-yard run to set up the game-winning touchdown, and topped 100 yards for the first time in his career (finished with 102). Denson said he did it with his late grandfather in mind.
9. Bryan’s catch
SportsCenter didn’t have it as a top play, which might’ve been a shock to anyone who saw it. Bentley threw to a pretty well-covered Edwards. No matter, he reached one hand around the defender, snatched the ball out of the air and shoved the defender off to complete the 75-yard touchdown catch. It was South Carolina’s longest play since 2016.
10. Sometimes starter
Wide receiver Chavis Dawkins made his first start of the season and the third of his career. The junior from Dorman bounced back from injury at the start of the season. He had one catch, a screen that went for no gain.
11. The first-timer
Freshman wide receiver Josh Vann scored his first career touchdown, snagging a pass over coverage in the back of the end zone. For the season, he’s got 10 catches for 79 yards.
12. The Captains
South Carolina’s captains were Zack Bailey, DJ Wonnum, Javon Kinlaw, Bryan Edwards
13. The fill-in
Blake Camper was benched as South Carolina’s right tackle last week, passed by freshman Dylan Wonnum. USC was already down its starting left tackle in Dennis Daley, and when backup Malik Young went down with an injury, Camper headed in at a different spot and held his own.
14. The Crowd
Attendance in Oxford was 56,798, with a loud and heavy contingent of Gamecocks fans. Muschamp praised the group afterward, saying “We heard it, and we appreciate them more than they know. The Gamecock family travels. I can tell you that.”
15. Swamp Sojourn
The Gamecocks picked up a pair of wins on what potentially seemed like toss-ups. From here until the bowl, USC will either be a solid underdog or big favorite. That starts with a trip to the Swamp to face a Florida squad that just got popped by Missouri. USC has won two of the past four in Gainesville, but that team has been an issue for Bentley, who has zero touchdowns and four picks in two games (one low-scoring loss in 2016 and an ugly win in 2017). Kickoff is set for noon.