South Carolina can finally move on now.
The Gamecocks play Louisiana Tech on Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium, and they can finally wash out the taste of last week’s loss to Kentucky. After flying high for two weeks, South Carolina was left with plenty of questions following that game.
Can it replace Deebo Samuel?
Freshmen Randrecous Davis and OrTre Smith will get more snaps in Samuel’s absence, but freshman Shi Smith figures to get the biggest boost in production. Smith has eight catches for 70 yards this season and is the closest thing the Gamecocks have to a Samuel look-alike. Veteran receiver Terry Googer says Smith can hit 24 mph on the team’s Catapult GPS monitoring system. To put that in perspective, Samuel’s top speed on his two kickoff returns this season was 22 mph.
Can the running game go anywhere?
The Gamecocks are 13th in the SEC and 120th in the nation in rushing with 85.7 yards per game. The team’s leading rusher, Rico Dowdle, is averaging 32.7 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry. Ty’Son Williams, who is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, could get his first start.
Can the Gamecocks get their mojo back?
Last week was humbling. Senior safety D.J. Smith said this week that the team “got a little big-headed” before the Kentucky game.
“But I feel like we are over that now,” Smith said. “I am glad we learned it now instead of in the future.”
Lots of questions. Now South Carolina needs to see if it has any answers, and that’s the big deal for Saturday’s game.
“Right now the older guys are trying to take the team and the younger guys under our wing and say, ‘The season is not over. We’re three games in. We still have plenty to play in the East,’ ” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “I think we’re going to be OK.”
We’ll see Saturday.