Every week South Carolina plays, we will give you five reactions to the action and what it means for the rest of the season. The Gamecocks (1-0) beat N.C. State 35-28 on Saturday in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Offensive Tackles Aren’t Half Bad
Against one of the nation’s best defensive lines, which includes standout ends Bradley Chubb and Kentavius Street, South Carolina gave up only two sacks. Neither of those was made by Chubb or Street, a testament to how well left tackle Malik Young and right tackle Zack Bailey played. Young and Bailey were making their first starts at those positions. “They had a really good D-line,” Young said. “They are well-coached, but at the end of the day, I honestly feel like we will play better D-lines in the SEC.” If they do, the Gamecocks proved, at least for one week, that they are capable of handling it.
The Preseason Focus on Turnovers Paid Off
The Gamecocks forced two fumbles by the Wolfpack. Specifically, defensive end Dante Sawyer forced both of them, and South Carolina probably wouldn’t have won the game without them. On top of that, the ball was out shortly after the whistle several times, including one that had to be replayed in the second half. “We are going to need to be an opportunistic team,” Muschamp said. “We have got to get possession of the ball. Our guys are very cognizant of trying to get the football off people.”
Jake Bentley is Human
South Carolina’s sophomore starting quarterback entered the season with some well-deserved hype, and he proved the strides he has taken mentally by picking up and exposing N.C. State’s many and varied pressures, but Bentley was off on a few throws throughout the game. He finished with three touchdown passes, including a spectacular 39-yarder to Deebo Samuel, and 215 yards through the air. “He was a little inaccurate in the second half,” Muschamp said. “They went after him.”
Running Game Has Miles To Go
South Carolina rushed for 30 yards, and what was supposed to be a three-headed attack at tailback didn’t have much attack to it at all. Starter Rico Dowdle was the leading rusher with 12 carries for 27 yards. A.J. Turner was the second back in the game, but that didn’t last long as he had one carry for 2 yards. Ty’Son Williams didn’t get a carry in his first game at South Carolina but did catch one pass for 5 yards. Overall, the Gamecocks averaged 1.5 yards per carry, which is dreadful.
Defense Will Be A Rollercoaster
South Carolina gave up 504 yards on 99 snaps. That was the bad news. The good news is it had 11 tackles-for-loss after averaging six per game last year and sacked N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley four times. “I thought when we did rush four guys in more of a drop back setting, we did a much better job than a year ago,” Muschamp said. The defensive depth, particularly on the line, will be tested again Saturday against a Missouri team that gained 815 yards last week.