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From the Student Section: UMass at South Carolina

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Gamecocks stop skid as Bentley leads offense to its best game of the year.

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks moved to 3-4 on the year with a 34-28 victory over UMass. The Gamecocks built a big lead in the second half after cracking the 21 point mark for the first time this year. After a rough fourth quarter, Carolina managed to get a few first downs late to kill the game.

Bentley Plays Well

When head coach Will Muschamp opted to burn the redshirt on freshman QB Jake Bentley this week, it was met with mixed feelings. The offense most definitely needed a boost at QB, but it is not greatest idea to burn a redshirt halfway through the season. One thing is certain, though: the offense had its best day of the year with Bentley at the helm. The play calling was designed to get Bentley into the game easy, and it involved several screens and zone reads, which allowed Deebo Samuel to have a big day with over 130 yards rushing and receiving. Bentley finished the day completing 17 of 26 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The games get bigger and tougher the rest of the way, but the freshman played a good first game.

Dowdle and Williams have good days

A big help to Bentley was that the run game was able to get going early. The Gamecocks ran for 194 on the day, led by Rico Dowdle’s 87 yards and a touchdown on 5.4 yards per carry. David Williams also chipped in with 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Brandon McIlwain was able to play some snaps at QB but did not throw a pass, picking up 17 yards on a few read option plays. The run game, coupled with Bentley, powered the offense to 34 points and 395 yards.

Rough day on defense

The Carolina defense gave up the most points on the season, surrendering 28 to the Minutemen. While the numbers given up seem high to a team now 1-7 on the season, the Minutemen offense is no cakewalk. They managed to score 35 against Mississippi State earlier this year, and with QB Andrew Ford in the lineup has only been held under 20 once. There were multiple missed assignments and busted coverages, but the defense still managed to force another four turnovers. A tough day on defense was due - of course, it was always going to come on the offense’s best day.

The Verdict

The Gamecocks stop the skid, get the third win of the year, and QB Jake Bentley had a solid debut. Now, the Gamecocks will have their first night home game of the year next week against a ranked, heavily injured Tennessee.