CHRIS WELLBAUM GamecockCentral.com
We break down key plays, game points, and a burning question after South Carolina’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl win over North Carolina.
Three key pieces
North Carolina got the ball first and got the first downs in their first two snaps. A few short runs set up a third and four at Gamecock 44. It was probably a territory of four downs as long as there was no loss on the third down. But there was. Aaron Sterling came out unscathed on the left side. Sam Howell managed to dodge Sterling’s attempted sacking, but it disturbed him enough that Jabari Ellis went to Howell and brought him down. The once promising practice ended abruptly with a punt.
South Carolina struck quickly after the punt. After two picked up runs over 29 yards, Dakereon Joyner took a shotgun, rolled right and threw as far as he could towards midfield, where Jaheim Bell had sprinted past his defender. The deep safety had moved up, out of play, and Bell ran under the pass and then into the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown. Just like that, South Carolina had all the momentum.
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3. Third down conversion (x2)
CAROLINE FOOTBALL: Beamer and Gamecocks take victory at Mayo Bowl
Used to shootouts, North Carolina came back and made it interesting. But South Carolina put the game aside with a pair of hard drives in the fourth quarter. In every practice, South Carolina faced a third down. He was third and five on the first leg, third and seven on the second. Both times South Carolina played the same game, and both times they converted.
Joyner got the shotgun, Kevin Harris went left, and Joyner went right. On the first play, he called a big block from Nick Muse for the first down. In the second game he followed up with a much less powerful but still effective blocking attempt by Ahmarean Brown.
3 game balls
It’s giving season, so I’m going to give one more because it’s not fair to omit any of these three.
Bell’s first three games were a 20-yard rush, 69-yard touchdown and 66-yard touchdown (from another quarterback as well). He has already had the game of his life less than halfway through the first quarter. Bell finished with three carries for 21 yards and five receptions for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Bell was the big game guy, but Harris was the driving force behind it. He’s rushed 31 times, picking up positive distances in 28 of those races. Harris rushed for a season-high 182 yards, setting the bowls program record for carries and yards. South Carolina knew they had to play ball control to keep North Carolina’s explosive offense off the field. The result was 51 carries for 301 yards, the two bowl program records, plus 39 minutes of possession time, and it was all powered by Harris.
âWe had a plan for how we were going to win the football game, but even I didn’t think it would go so well,â Shane Beamer said.
Joyner hadn’t thrown a pass for two years. He was 17-30 in his career, for 169 yards and no touchdowns. But the Gamecocks needed a spark at quarterback, and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield decided that Joyner, with his ability to run, was that spark. The Gamecocks have kept the movement a secret; Beamer said the only time Joyner trained on wide receiver was the 20 minutes the media was allowed to watch the practice earlier this week.
âWe felt like we had to get DK in there,â Beamer said. âWe had a month to prepare it.
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Joyner responded by going 9-9 for 160 yards and rushing 10 times for 64 yards. He didn’t have the full offense at his disposal, and the readings were limited to what Joyner felt best with, but it was the product of a good game plan. Joyner wasn’t perfect, but he was close enough and won player of the match honors.
A burning question
Can the Gamecocks shape the offense to match Spencer Rattler next season?
Beamer delved into the coach’s speech in his post-game interview, saying, “Spencer or whoever our quarterback is next year.” But we all know, except injury, it’s Rattler. He’s been South Carolina’s most talented quarterback in a long time, and the Gamecocks need to create an offense to capitalize on his abilities. What Satterfield and the Gamecocks may have done with Joyner and Zeb Noland (and, Beamer has confirmed, O’Mega Blake, Juju McDowell and others), split snaps hinted at they might be up to something for Rattler. .