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Game Balls: South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina

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Handing out superlatives (spurlatives?) for the first game of the year.

He’s BAAAAAACK.
Brian Westerholt-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks boat-raced the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, 49-15, at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Gamecocks racked up 557 yards of total offense as they move to 1-0 on the season and 2-0 all-time vs. the Chanticleers.

The game featured several standout performances from South Carolina on both sides of the ball, with a few star shining brightest.

South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon

In his first game as full-time offensive coordinator, McClendon guided the South Carolina offense to 49 points and more than 550 yards of total offense. The Gamecocks executed McClendon’s diverse, up-tempo offense with speed and precision.

Junior quarterback Jake Bentley completed 22 of 29 passes for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns, with junior running back Rico Dowdle leading the ground attack with 105 yards and 1 touchdown on 15 carries.

McClendon was named South Carolina’s interim offensive coordinator for the Outback Bowl following Kurt Roper’s departure in December. Under the direction of the former Georgia wide receiver, the Gamecocks hung 300 yards of offense and 26 points on Michigan’s No. 3-ranked defense in the team’s 26-19 win over the Wolverines in the bowl game.

Fans had high expectations for McClendon following the team’s impressive showing in the bowl game - and he completely delivered on Saturday.

Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams

Allen-Williams was electric on Saturday. The redshirt senior finished the game with 5 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker picked up right where he left off after a shoulder injury suffered in Week 3 last season sidelined him for the year.

In his last four games, Allen-Williams has 15 total tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery. Those are exactly the kind of numbers you want to see from a senior leader.

Wide receiver Deebo Samuel

No, he didn’t have another kickoff return touchdown, but Samuel looked every bit as dynamic as he did in his abbreviated 2017 campaign.

The Inman, S.C., native led the team with 7 catches for 56 yards and 1 touchdown, scored on an insane one-handed snag. He added 11 yards on the ground.

Samuel was predictably impressive on special teams as well - with two kickoff returns totaling 45 yards.

A healthy Deebo is great news for the Gamecocks, especially as they welcome the Georgia Bulldogs to Columbia next weekend.

Quarterback Jake Bentley

He didn’t have any Houdini-like sack escapes or highlight-reel scrambles, but all the Gamecocks junior quarterback did was complete 75.86 percent of his passes for 250 yards for 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Bentley looked calm and comfortable in McClendon’s offense, only getting sacked once.

If the 6-4 signal-caller can continue to provide the Gamecocks with steady, turnover-free play this season, the offense has a chance to meet, and maybe even exceed, fans’ high hopes.