Most of the talk surrounding South Carolina entering the new season had to do with Jadeveon Clowney, but the Heisman hopeful had one of his weakest performances in recent memory. On the other hand, Mike Davis, new to the starting role at running back, had no problem gaining yards and scoring a touchdown as the Gamecocks kicked off their season with a bit of sloppiness.
They may have won 27-10 to open the year well against North Carolina, but there were plenty of rough patches along the way. Connor Shaw was OK, nothing more, while Dylan Thompson didn’t get too many chances to win back his place as a starting quarterback. Davis, however, ran 12 times for 115 yards and a touchdown, putting on the finishing touch in a win that took a lot out of South Carolina.
Despite the huge size advantage when it came to the lines, resulting in 228 yards on 38 carries by South Carolina on the ground (Shaw ran for 43), the South Carolina defense was exhausted when it was all over. That’s what happens when one team managed to snap the ball 20 more times than the other one, forcing the Gamecocks to play in a pace they’re not really used to.
First game of the season. It’s going to get better. Week after week, it’s going to get better and better. Hats off to my defense. As long as we get the win, that’s all that matters to me.
Everyone was looking for some big hits from Clowney, but he was ill the night before, and was mostly a non-factor in the game. Bryn Renner was sacked only once (but he had a pretty disappointing performance with 26-of-43 for 194 yards and a touchdown), as North Carolina did a good enough job of protecting him against the advancing horde.
And yet, depth, talent and size were too much to ignore. Too many big players the Tar Heels gave up, including the 65-yard touchdown from Connor Shaw to Shaq Roland to open the scoring in the game, and the 75-yard touchdown from Davis to close it out. It was Shaw’s longest touchdown pass of his career. Davis’ touchdown run was the second longest by a South Carolina player over the last decade, with the longest being a 88-yd rush TD by Bobby Wallace on Nov. 18, 2006 vs Middle Tennessee State.
Next up for the Gamecocks is possibly their toughest game of the season – visiting Georgia in Athens. Their defense looks ready – they held North Carolina to their lowest scoring total under their current head coach (Second season with the team), allowing the Tar Heels just one touchdown in three trips to the red zone. Clowny didn’t get to Renner, but he was on his heels all night long.
Against Georgia, it’s going to be very different. They have a strong quarterback in Aaron Murray, but their real strength is in the running game and Todd Gurley. Clowney, and not just his teammates on defense or Mike Davis, are going to need to bring a lot more to that SEC East showdown in comparison to what they had to show against North Carolina.