The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Deep ball, improved offensive line guide Gamecocks to victory

 The South Carolina Gamecocks took down the Furman Paladins 47-21 in its first home game of the season on Sept. 9, 2023. The Gamecocks worked in several freshman and evened up its record to 1-1 in 2023.

After opening the season with a tough loss in Charlotte, the South Carolina football team got back on track with a 47-21 win over Furman in its home opener Saturday night.

Redshirt senior quarterback Spencer Rattler shined for the Gamecocks, throwing for 345 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions over three quarters before turning the game over to the team’s other four quarterbacks. The deep ball served Rattler well, as he completed 25 of 27 passes and engineered eight plays of 15 or more yards, which accounted for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

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One of Rattler’s deep touchdowns went to redshirt junior quarterback/wide receiver Luke Doty, who is Rattler’s backup. Despite playing wide receiver in 2020 and again last week, this was Doty’s first career receiving touchdown, and he has now scored as a rusher, a receiver and a passer at South Carolina.

"I'm very comfortable with (receiving)," Doty said. "It's just like riding a bike, you never really lose it."

Fifth-year wide receiver Xavier Legette followed up his career night against North Carolina with another impressive performance against the Paladins, notching 118 receiving yards with a touchdown on six catches. According to Rattler, the chemistry between him and Legette is built on trust developed as they worked together over the offseason.

"The trust level is so high," Rattler said. "We put it up, he's going to get it." 

The deep ball did not stop with Rattler, however. After he exited, the Gamecocks' other four quarterbacks — Doty, freshman LaNorris Sellers, redshirt freshman Tanner Bailey and redshirt sophomore Colten Gauthier — combined for 118 yards in the second half. The majority of that came from Sellers, who made his collegiate debut with two touchdowns, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to true freshman wide receiver Tyshawn Russell in the third quarter.

Coming out of last week, majored concerns focused on South Carolina's offensive line. However, it looked strong against Furman, giving up only one sack compared to last week's nine.

"I thought they did well, thought they protected well for the most part," head coach Shane Beamer said. "We did some decent things in the run game. (The) most disappointing thing was probably the penalties. That was sloppy at the end of the game."

However, Beamer said after the game that a key area of improvement for the defense needs to be stopping trick plays. One of Furman's first offensive plays of the game saw junior wide receiver Joshua Harris catch a lateral behind the line of scrimmage and fire the football 51 yards down the field to set up the first score of the game.

"We did not expect to give up a double pass to start the game," Beamer said. "(That) had remnants of East Carolina two years ago — same play — so clearly we've got to coach that better."

South Carolina is now 1-1 on the season with its first true road game and major test around the corner. The Gamecocks will head to Athens next weekend to face No. 1 Georgia in a 3:30 p.m. game that will air on CBS.