USC Gamecocks Football

The inside look at Alabama, coming from the Gamecock who would know

Tavien Feaster switched schools, but one prominent opponent remained on the schedule.

Saturday will mark the running back’s fourth straight season in which he’ll see Alabama on the opposing sideline. Though the stage isn’t the College Football Playoff, an SEC opener will have to suffice.

South Carolina (1-1) hosts the No. 2 Crimson Tide (2-0) at 3:30 p.m.

“They’re going to be a tough, fast, physical team,” Feaster said. “Very disciplined guys. And they’re going to bring it every play. So go out there and give it your best and don’t let your guard down. It’s going to be a four quarter game.”

The above is what Feaster said he’ll tell his Gamecocks about facing Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. The message seems obvious, but there’s a certain credence to it, considering Feaster’s Alabama history. The former Clemson Tiger has seven career carries for 21 yards against the Tide. He was part of two victories in the series — national championships in 2016 and 2018 — and one CFP loss.

No other member of USC’s roster has that kind of experience.

“I think a lot of our guys have talked to him about his experiences and those sort of things,” said Carolina coach Will Muschamp. “And I think that’s certainly beneficial for us.

“Tavien’s a very bright guy. He stays to himself, has been a great teammate since he’s been here. Really happy to have him in the organization.”

Feaster, who officially arrived from Clemson last month as a graduate transfer, has 136 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries through two games with USC. The next one, however, is among the biggest of Feaster’s final college season.

The Tide hasn’t lost to an SEC East Division opponent since Marcus Lattimore, Stephen Garcia and Alshon Jeffery helped pull off the upset for the Gamecocks in 2010. Nine years later, it’s up to Feaster, Ryan Hilinski, Bryan Edwards and crew to make it happen again.

Alabama is 25.5-point favorite.

“Offensively speaking,” Feaster said, “we just have to play ball and be ourselves. And just execute the play call and go full speed.”

Included in the Tide prep this week is film study of last season’s national title game. Clemson won then, 44-16, handing Saban his most lopsided loss as Alabama coach.

“Nah, it won’t seem kind of weird,” Feaster said. “There’ll just be some memories that flash back in my mind. … But we just got to prepare. The way to prepare, watch a great team that executed on all cylinders and won the game against them.”

Alabama has since changed coordinators and had 10 players taken in the NFL Draft. But departures haven’t caused much of a drop-off. The Tide, behind Heisman contending quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, have outscored their first two opponents by the combined score of 104-13.

“They’re great guys, going to fly around,” Feaster said. “I believe they got a couple guys back in the secondary who were out last year (Trevon Diggs, Jalyn Armour-Davis, Daniel Wright), which is going to make them better on the back end than when I played them. Those guys, they got experience. They had some young corners last year and they’re going to be very talented on the outside.”


Who: Alabama at South Carolina

When: 3:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 14

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia


Line: Alabama by 25.5

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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