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South Carolina Gamecocks vs. East Carolina Pirates: Game Balls

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Who stood out the most in the Gamecocks’ 20-15 win?

NCAA Football: East Carolina at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since Oct. 17, 2015, the Gamecocks get to celebrate on their home field.

An exciting offensive start combined with a bend-don’t-break defensive effort to lead South Carolina (2-1) to a 20-15 victory over East Carolina (2-1) at Williams Brice Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Not only do the Gamecocks take home the win in new head coach Will Muschamp’s debut, but a select few get a prestigious game ball from yours truly.


Game Balls

Defense

First half stats from the Gamecock D looked like this: 3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 INT and just 199 yards surrendered to the high-powered Pirate offense.

ECU’s offense woke up in the second half, totaling 519 yards and 35 first downs for the game - but to find the most eye-popping stat, you’ll have to look at ECU’s turnovers: 4 total, 3 in the end zone.

As stated above, the defense was the epitome of bend-don’t-break tonight - tallying 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and countless quarterback hurries. You know what they didn’t do a lot of? Miss tackles.

Kudos, defense - especially the entire D Line, Bryson Allen-Williams, Chris Lammons, Jamarcus King, T.J. Holloman, Jonathan Walton.

David Williams

The topic of much of the conversation this offseason after tumbling down the depth chart, the RS JR running back had arguably his best game in a Gamecocks uniform.

In a supporting role, backing up A.J. Turner, Williams took 7 carries for 67 yards, over 9.5 ypc. Beyond his impressive stat line, the Pennsylvania native’s touches came at largely critical times - an impressive catch on third down and the game-sealing 25 yard spring off a pitch from Brandon McIlwain.

Overall, a great game well beyond the box score for the former four star recruit. Can’t help but be happy for the guy.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at South Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon McIlwain

Obviously. In his first career start, all the freshman quarterback did was lead the Gamecocks to their first home win in nearly a year and first halftime lead since December 2014.

The noted “crispness” McIlwain brought to the offense was clear from the first snap - a 9 yard touchdown run by the man himself.

Not only did the former Elite 11 QB show off his wheels in avoiding sacks and rushing for 34 yards and 2 touchdowns, he got to chuck the ball around quite a bit as well. No. 11 finished 16 of 28 for 195 yards and several long completions and impressive rollouts.

Most importantly, McIlwain played mistake-free football. No sacks and no interceptions in a game where turnovers made all the difference in the world. Loved seeing the connection with fellow freshmen Bryan Edwards and Randrecous Davis.

GOATS

Slow Start

Just kidding - thank you, A.J., for helping us buck this trend!

Option Read

Seriously, this again? I touched on my disdain for this play earlier this season, but it reached new levels of frustration today. After some solid drives early, the play du jour continuously pushed us to 3rd and long.

While it obviously can be an effective play, poor A.J. Turner just seemed to be forever buried by Pirate defenders 3 to 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Our offense isn't built to run the ball out of a pro set with the QB under center, so I don't know what the answer is to get the run game going. The more traditional option pitch play seemed to work as the game wore on.

For now, I’ll just keep playing armchair quarterback and complain without offering real solutions.


What did you think of the game? Did any other Gamecocks deserve a Game Ball? Let me know!