The Daily Gamecock

Preview: South Carolina travels to East Carolina, QB1 to be announced Saturday

Football head coach Shane Beamer's career at USC got off to a great start with a 46-0 win against Eastern Illinois University on Saturday. Looking ahead, the team is preparing to travel to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium to face the East Carolina Pirates.

After missing the season opener due to injury, sophomore quarterback Luke Doty said he is "definitely expected to be 100 percent on Saturday," according to a tweet on Tuesday.

However, following Zeb Noland's four-touchdown performance last weekend Beamer will be tasked with a difficult decision: Who should start?

Fans will have to be patient, as Beamer has said he will not name a starting quarterback until the day of the game. 

"Don't know why I would," he said in a press conference Sunday. "I'm sure coach [Mike] Houston would love that and he knows, I mean he's got to get ready for Dakereon Joyner, and he's gotta — they've gotta get ready for Luke Doty and Zeb."

Despite the absence of Kevin Harris, the SEC's rushing leader, the Gamecocks' running game against Eastern Illinois did not miss a beat, combining for 254 yards. 

Although Harris is expected to return, redshirt senior ZaQuandre White, redshirt freshman MarShawn Lloyd and freshman Juju McDowell are expected to see time on the field against a Pirates defense that allowed 226 yards on the ground last week. 

"Kevin will have a role on Saturday, but it's not like all of a sudden Kevin Harris is back and those guys are just kicked to the curb," Beamer said in a press conference. "There's some dynamic running backs in that room, Kevin included. Competition is a core value of this program and we're competing at every position, but certainly it helps to be able to add a guy of Kevin's ability to the room, without a doubt."

On the defensive side, senior safety R.J. Roderick will be back this week after he and four unnamed players were suspended for the opener. He will be a big addition to a defense that pitched a shutout and had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a 61-yard touchdown by sophomore edge rusher Jordan Burch.

"Those are some of the best guys in the league, and they've done well for us so far, especially on Saturday pitching a shutout. That was huge for us," Doty said about the defense. "We couldn't be more proud of those guys and happy to have them on our side rather than across from us."

The Pirates opened their season with a 33-19 loss to Appalachian State. Junior quarterback Holton Alhers threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns. His main target, freshman running back Keaton Mitchell, caught five passes for 79 yards and one touchdown, and ran the ball on four attempts for 50 yards. 

Despite committing costly penalties and struggling to contain the Mountaineers' offense, Beamer expects to see the East Carolina team that "beat SMU (Southern Methodist University) convincingly at the end of last season." 

"We know what we're walking into on Saturday and if we don't, we're going to figure it out pretty quick," he said.

For Alhers, he will be without key protection up front, as the team's starting offensive tackle Bailey Malovic's season is officially over. The redshirt junior will undergo season-ending knee surgery and miss the remainder of the year, according to the Pirates' head coach Houston and reporting done by 247 Sports. 

In Tuesday's press conference, Houston said he expects to see a "good bit of pressure" from defensive coordinator Clayton White's scheme on Saturday. 

The Gamecocks will likely be wearing "all white" uniforms against East Carolina, according to Beamer.

South Carolina will kick off at noon on Saturday on ESPN2.