Photo: Tori Richman

Rico Dowdle anchors strong offense against Arkansas

With injuries to the offensive line and struggles in the running game, South Carolina’s offense was looking for a breakout game entering Saturday's game against Arkansas. 

Running back Rico Dowdle had just that.

The 5-foot-11 sophomore running back proved that he can produce when he's healthy, rushing for a season-high 61 yards on 11 carries in the Gamecocks' 48-22 win at Williams-Brice Stadium. 

“The [offensive] line did a great job, shoutout to them,” Dowdle said. “They had a couple people down, and they came in and played well and got the job done.” 

Dowdle was able to fully commit himself physically to the game, after he strained his quad in the season opener against NC State. Even with the exhausting challenges that Dowdle has faced with his injury, he hasn’t missed a single practice. 

“A lot has to do ... with production,” Dowdle said. “If I produce on my carries, then I should get more reps and that’s what happened.” 

Head coach Will Muschamp said Dowdle’s quad was drained on Friday before the Texas A&M game, which helped secure his physicality and allowed him to have a breakout performance. 

"This is the best he’s looked going into the ball game this past week," Muschamp said. 

The unity among the offense Saturday was contagious, said quarterback Jake Bentley, who threw 199 yards and three touchdowns. 

“At the end of the day, it was down to execution,” Bentley said. “I am going to keep saying until I can’t say it anymore ... At the end of the day that's comes down to: One-to-one match-ups.” 

Similar to Dowdle, tight end Hayden Hurst was able to take advantage of the play calling and hauled in a 62-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, which was his longest of the season. That touchdown made him the third tight end in South Carolina history to record more than one thousand career yards. 

The Gamecocks will take confidence from their win over Arkansas into their next game against Tennessee, and hope to significantly take their offensive performances to new heights. This win gave offensive players like Bryan Edwards, Alan Knott and Dowdle the push they needed to move forward and prepare to face the Vols in Knoxville. 

“I think just winning a game in general gives you a little boost of confidence,” Edwards said. “Anytime you see a ‘W’ in the win column is fun for you.” 

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