USC FOOTBALL: 5 THINGS WE LEARNED

South Carolina offense opens at faster pace

By DENNIS BRUNSON dennis@theitem.com
Posted 9/4/18

The South Carolina Gamecocks came out of the gate rolling against Coastal Carolina on Saturday and never really looked back in a 49-15 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. The contest, of course, was a precursor to what is really to come on Saturday …

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USC FOOTBALL: 5 THINGS WE LEARNED

South Carolina offense opens at faster pace

Posted

The South Carolina Gamecocks came out of the gate rolling against Coastal Carolina on Saturday and never really looked back in a 49-15 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. The contest, of course, was a precursor to what is really to come on Saturday when the Gamecocks take on defending Southeastern Conference champion and national runner-up Georgia.

The odds are head coach Will Muschamp and his coaching staff kept things as vanilla as possible against Coastal. However, that doesn't mean that some things could not be gleaned from the contest against the Chanticleers.

1. THE OFFENSE IS FASTER .

Or quicker or more crisp, something like that. You get the idea. It just looked much, much, much more effective than it ever did in the two seasons that Kurt Roper was in charge of the Carolina offense.

For the most part, it looked as though there was a rhyme and a reason to the play calling, and there didn't seem to be much lingering and standing around by the offense. You seldom got that feeling with Roper calling the plays.

Of course, when you're rolling up 557 yards of total offense to go with 32 first downs things are bound to look good. And it's just one game. It will be interesting to see how the USC offense performs against the Bulldogs.

2. BENTLEY LOOKS IMPROVED

Again, it's just one game, but quarterback Jake Bentley looked more consistent throwing the football in the season opener than he did in any of the 13 contests he played in last season.

After such a promising 7-game start to his career as a true freshman in 2016, Bentley didn't progress as a sophomore and perhaps regressed ever so slightly. There was no rhythm to his game, no consistency to his passing.

He looked in control of the offense on Saturday, completing 22 of 29 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

Again, Bentley and South Carolina will be going up against a totally different animal on Saturday in Georgia. It will be interesting to see how well he maintains his composure when there will be a lot more bullets flying around him.

3. SPREADING THE WEALTH

Of the 25 passes completed by Bentley and backup QB Michael Scarnecchia, 11 different players made catches. That's a very good thing when a team has the talent USC possesses at wide receiver and running back.

Deebo Samuel led the way with seven catches. Though he only accumulated 56 yards in receptions, the fact that he had 10 touches -- one rush for 11 yards and two kickoff returns for 45 yards -- is hopefully a sign that new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon is intent on getting the ball in his hands. The more a player with his ability handles the ball, the better the chances he can get you some quick points.

The list getting touches will likely trim down this week and the number of catches for receivers such as Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith are likely to go up against Georgia.

4. DIALING UP THE BLITZ

There are a lot of questions concerning the defense heading into the season, but one thing that stood out on Saturday is it was able to get consistent pressure on Chants quarterback Kevin Anderson.

Though Coastal only threw the football 18 times, the Gamecocks came up with three sacks. Helping record those sacks were defensive backs Jaycee Horn and Steven Montac.

5. OFFENSIVE LINE HAS POTENTIAL

There were plenty of holes made available for Carolina running backs throughout the game, mainly Rico Dowdle with 105 yards on 12 carries and former Crestwood High School standout with 82 yards on 11 totes. USC finished with 263 rushing yards as a team.

They had substantial holes to run through and that can be attributed to the offensive line. It had to be nice for Muschamp to see his O line control the line of scrimmage against a foe against which it is expected to do so.