The Daily Gamecock

Preview: Gamecocks gear up for Thursday night game against South Carolina State

Gamecock football will face off against the South Carolina State Bulldogs for a Thursday night matchup after the kickoff time was moved due to expected extreme weather as a result of Hurricane Ian. 

During his weekly media availability, head coach Shane Beamer said there have been talks with the Miami Dolphins coaching staff about how they prepare for quick turnaround games and focusing on what's a priority for the team to work on in the shorter time frame. 

"It's a quick turnaround, you can’t do everything,” Beamer said. “We got out there this morning and did very much our normal Tuesday practice. Tomorrow and the next day will be kind of a combination of what we typically do on a Thursday and Friday, just condense it.”

The defense is looking to bounce back after a rough first half against Charlotte. The team hopes to start the game strong and prevent South Carolina State from scoring early. 

“In the first half, start off flat, you know that’s what defense we're working on. Starting the game off not getting no points in the first two or three drives, that’s something that we need to work on,” sixth-year defensive back Devonni Reed said. “In that game last Saturday, that’s something we struggled with.”

Coming off the win against Charlotte, the Gamecocks are high on confidence and morale. Both sides of the ball are looking to carry that momentum into Thursday night’s game. 

“It builds (morale) really high, just making sure we get hands on balls and stuff like that. Just knowing our big dudes are going to go and rush the quarterback,” redshirt junior defensive back Cam Smith said. “It just builds a bond throughout the defense that we know we’re going to get a turnover.”

This season, injuries have played a factor in South Carolina’s offensive and defensive struggles. Junior wide receiver Corey Rucker made his debut against Charlotte, scoring his first touchdown as a Gamecock. Many other players such as redshirt junior defensive back David Spaulding are also returning to the depth chart after being on the injury list.

“Right now it's just trying to get in the flow of playing in a game just because I've been limited at practice, haven’t done a ton of stuff,” Rucker said. “Just getting a feel for being in the game and playing full speed again.”

 Many Gamecock players from South Carolina have personal connections to the Bulldog players. Sixth-year center Eric Douglas talked about the significance of playing against his father's alma mater. 

“My dad was an All-American at South Carolina State, he played left tackle,” Douglas said. “I’ve got a lot of family coming down for this one.”

South Carolina State and South Carolina have played each other twice before with both matchups occurring during Steve Spurrier's tenure as head coach and Beamer's time as an assistant. The first meeting in 2007 was a 38-3 victory for South Carolina. In 2009, the Gamecocks won 38-14. 

Although a smaller school, Beamer praised the strength and talent of South Carolina State and the challenge they could give the Gamecocks. 

“We also made them very aware this morning that this is a talented team," Beamer said. “There was a high draft pick last year on their team, they’re going to have NFL players get drafted off this year's team. We’ve got so many guys on our team from South Carolina, they know what this program, South Carolina State’s program, is about without a doubt.”

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium and will air on SEC Network.