With the first game in the books how did the Gamecocks’ perform in there opener
09/05/2021 / GCF STAFF
South Carolina vs. Eastern Illinois
The Shane Beamer Era kicked off in Columbia in grand style with a decisive 46-0 win over Eastern Illinois. How did the Gamecocks’ perform in there home opener?
Zeb Noland: Grad assistant now on the field of play, was named the starting QB against opening opponent Eastern Illinois. The 24-year-old quarterback Zeb Noland threw for four touchdowns in the first half to give the Gamecocks a commanding lead. Noland completed 13 of his 22 pass attempts for 121 yards, protect the ball, he did mot turn the ball over.
Jaylan Foster: The former walk-on started at free safety and he had an immediate impact, Jaylan intercepting the ball on the very first EIU offensive play of the game, intercepting a pass that cornerback Darius Rush broke up. Also Foster recovered a blocked punt by Debo Wiliams.
Cam Smith: Cam cracked a bone in his left foot in early August which led to doubt if he would be able to play for the season opener. Smith played and his impact on the game was felt as well. Cam was active and dominant early, leading the team with four tackles in the first half, including a pair of vicious hits.
ZaQuandre White: With incumbent starting running back Kevin Harris unavailable due to his summer back procedure, White earned the start for the Gamecocks and showcased steady between-the-tackles running as well as strong hands in the passing game. White served as a safety valve for Noland, making a team-leading four catches, including a 10-yard receiving touchdown. He added an explosive 63-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to bring his game total to 133 rushing yards on 12 carries.
The tight ends: The first two touchdowns were short red-zone throws to Muse and Bell. Muse was able to score again on a nice played out trick two-point conversation, following his touchdown earlier. Also Bell set up in back field as a fullback on an end-around rushing play. He broke loose for a whopping 65-yard rushing TD that was called back due to offensive holding late in the game.
Special teams: Yes” Beamer Ball" is back, his dad made the name (Hall of fame father Frank Beamer known for his “Beamer Ball brand of special teams), and his son is following in his foot steps. So it was no big surprise to see the Gamecocks make noise in that phase of the game Saturday night. It all started in the first quarter on a surprise two-point conversion following the Gamecocks first touchdown. With two blocked punts by defensive newcomers Debo Williams and Jordan Strachan. Both miscues led to scoring drives for the Gamecocks.
Talking atmosphere here: Taking in that the crowd of 64,868 at Williams-Brice fell well short of a sellout, better then the emptiness of last year’s COVID-19 season, the Williams-Brice was rocking and a rolling. Beamer greeted fans with his signature “welcome home” catchphrase on the video screen before the fans launched into traditional towel-waving madness during Sandstorm.
Only two negatives stood out here one was injuries and suspensions: The Gamecocks were without Harris at tailback, which was somewhat unexpected after Beamer said earlier in the week he’d be ready to go. Both his status and quarterback Luke Doty’s status will be hot topics heading into next week’s road trip to East Carolina. In addition, USC play-by-play host Todd Ellis reported before the game that five Gamecocks would miss the game due to suspension, including veteran safety R.J. Roderick.
Penalties: Yes it was the season openers, like most season openers it had its fair share of sloppiness. No penalty could derail the Gamecocks in a lopsided game Saturday night, a holding call wiped out a 65-yard touchdown rush by Bell, and an offside’s call negated what would have been Foster’s second interception of the game.