The Garnet team emerged victorious in South Carolina's Garnet & Black Spring Game at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night, defeating the Black team 20-13.
Strong play from Gamecocks newcomers helped invigorate the Garnet offense and the team's defense came up with big turnovers when it needed them most.
Head coach Shane Beamer said the program's new additions "did a great job" and made valuable on-field contributions in the game.
"You saw, one, a lot of the freshman that just got here — that graduated high school early — I saw them make some plays out there ... and then some of the transfers, as well, all showed up," Beamer said.
Among those new arrivals was redshirt junior quarterback Spencer Rattler, who impressed in his highly anticipated debut for the Gamecocks. Rattler led the Garnet team's offense for the first two quarters, producing two scoring drives for the winning team after coming up empty on a three-and-out opening drive.
Rattler accumulated 79 passing yards and completed eight of his 10 passes, including the Garnet team's longest play from scrimmage on a 30-yard throw to senior wide receiver Xavier Legette.
Rattler said having multiple offensive weapons at his disposal allowed him to orchestrate offensive schemes with greater ease.
"We're really deep in our skill positions, so that makes my job easier," Rattler said. "Just get the ball in their hands, they'll make plays."
Freshman quarterback Braden Davis, who replaced Rattler at the beginning of the second half, had a similar impact on the Garnet offense. After an interception by redshirt freshman defensive back Joseph Byrnes gave the Garnet team the ball near midfield, Davis led a drive that ended in a 25-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior tight end Traevon Kenion.
Rattler and Davis' strong efforts on offense were supplemented by two of their new Garnet teammates — junior wide receiver Antwane Wells, who made three catches for 31 yards, and graduate student running back Christian Beal-Smith, who amassed 18 yards on five carries and scored the game's lone touchdown on the ground.
Redshirt junior edge rusher Terrell Dawkins was another newcomer who established a dominant presence on the defensive side of the ball, earning one sack and leading all defensive players with 2.5 tackles for loss.
Beamer said each of the players from this incoming group will have "very impactful roles" on the team in the fall.
"We really like last year when we brought in all these transfers. We didn't miss on any of them — they all played major, meaningful roles for us last season, and (I) feel confident saying the same thing this year with this group," Beamer said.
Beamer said he was impressed with the team's efficient and disciplined play throughout the night.
"It was a really good night on the field, as well — efficient, very few penalties until that last drive ... but it was a clean game," Beamer said.
The Gamecocks will resume practicing in the summer ahead of its regular season opener against Georgia State at Williams-Brice Stadium on Sept. 3.