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August 29, 2013
It took two big plays on offense, a weather delay due to lightning, and a myriad of questions about Jadeveon Clowney's perceived sub-par performance, but the Gamecocks took their season-opener in convincing fashion.
No win should ever be taken lightly, and with a quality ACC team coming to town, it is difficult to know what to expect. With kinks to iron out early in the season, a superior team can be vulnerable in openers. The Gamecocks put those fears to bed early, flexed their muscles and reminded North Carolina that SEC football is greater than ACC football.
For a top-10 team hosting an unranked opponent, a win is expected. The Gamecocks obliged. They accomplished the task and were able to get the win while escaping any significant injuries.
Next week, the season begins. The Georgia Bulldogs loom making Thursday night's game so important. It was an opportunity to answer several questions for Steve Spurrier and his program, but most notably, the running game post-Marcus Lattimore.
Starter Mike Davis and his backup, Brandon Wilds, responded emphatically to any doubts of their prowess. The pair combined for nearly 200 yards highlighted by Davis's 75-yard scamper to pay dirt on USC's first play from scrimmage in the second half. On the play, Davis displayed he has something Lattimore lacked - breakaway speed.
The wide receiving corps began the game without their leader. Bruce Ellington did not play until the second quarter but it took no time for sophomore receiver Shaq Roland to haul in a 65-yard touchdown pass from QB Connor Shaw on his first pass attempt of the season. Seven different Gamecock receivers reeled in receptions, two for scores, showing their potential depth and the possibility of sharing the wealth this season. The question still remains if Ellington will be their go-to receiver but the unit, as a whole, showed promise.
The kicking game was very solid as Elliott Fry made his debut. The freshman walk-on was very accurate making field goals of 39 and 26 yards and completing each extra point.
So what should you take away from this game? First, the Gamecocks move to 1-0 on the very young season and have put behind them the often difficult season-opener. Their next opponent has yet to play their first game giving the Gamecocks a two-day preparation advantage for next week's top-10 match-up in Athens.
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