Opponent Watch: A deep look at South Carolina’s offense


Michigan faces off with South Carolina in the Outback Bowl in just over two weeks.

Time to preview what the Gamecocks are all about.

Here’s a glance at some of the offensive players the Wolverines will face in their New Year’s Day bowl game against South Carolina.

South Carolina’s offensive line

They have a veteran offensive line consisting of all Juniors and Seniors, but a very young group of skilled players.

Center Alan Knott (#70) is a redshirt senior who has started 4 straight years on the Gamecocks offensive line.

Right Guard Corey Helms (#51), another 5th year senior, began his career at Wake Forest where he started as a true freshman in 2013. He transferred after his sophomore year, sat out 2015, and has been starting for SC ever since.

Right Tackle Zack Bailey (#78) is a junior and considered the best lineman on the squad. As a true freshman in ’15, he made 5 starts at center & guard before switching to left guard last year. He was moved to tackle this past spring.

Left Guard Donnell Stanley (#72) earned a starting spot on the line last year but sustained a season-ending injury in the first series of his first game.

Left Tackle Dennis Daley (#74) is a junior college transfer in his first year with South Carolina.

South Carolina’s best offensive player

The best player on the offense is Junior Tight End Hayden Hurst (#81). After graduating high school, Hurst played in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system for 3 years. In the summer of 2015, he was allowed to walk on at SC. That fall, he played in every game, and even earning a start. He’s now the all-time Gamecocks record holder for receptions (48) and yards (616) by a Tight End.

Earlier this month, he declared for the NFL draft. At this point he’s still playing in the bowl game but that could change.

South Carolina’s running backs

A pair of sophomore running backs carry the load in the rushing attack. AJ Turner (#25) and Ty’Son Williams (#27) each have 92 carries for around 500 yards a piece. Rico Dowdle (#5) was the team?s leading rusher last year with 764 yards, but he fractured a bone in his leg in the Tennessee game and hasn?t returned since.

South Carolina’s quarterback

SC is quarterbacked by sophomore Jake Bentley (#19), whose father Bobby is the ‘Cocks running backs coach.
Bentley has thrown for 2,550 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, he’s also thrown 11 interceptions, 5 of which came in 2 of the final 3 games against Florida (3) and Clemson (2 – one was a pick6). In their zone read/pass-to-run offense, Bentley has rushed the ball for 86 yards and 6 TDs.

South Carolina’s receivers

The team?s leading receiver is 6?3? sophomore Bryan Edwards (#89). He started all 12 games last year and was Freshman All-SEC. This year, he?s caught 59 passes for 705 yards (9th best in the SEC) and 4 TDs (11.94ypc).

A pair of freshmen round out the offense: Shi Smith (#13) (26 catches for 350 yards & 2 TDs) and (#18) OrTre Smith (30 receptions/326 yards/3 TDs).

The verdict on the South Carolina offense

The mix of youth at the skilled positions – plus the termination of OC/QB Coach Kurt Roper – makes it difficult to imagine the ‘Cocks having much success against a Don Brown-led defense that?s had 4 weeks to prepare. Even if Mo Hurst decides to sit out the bowl game, it won?t be easy to run against Michigan’s front 7. And if they have to rely on their passing game….well, good luck.


  Comments: 11

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