Make Will Muschamp three-for-three producing bowl teams at USC, the first Gamecock coach who will take the Gamecocks to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons. The Gamecocks’ 49-9 win over UTC Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium also gives Muschamp 21 career wins tying Steve Spurrier for the most by a Gamecock coach in his first three seasons.
The Gamecocks scored early and often against the overmatched Mocs. Touchdowns on their first three possessions allowed them to build a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. They led 28-3 at the half and the rout was on from there.
Junior quarterback Jake Bentley tied his career high with four touchdown passes. He finished the night 25-29 for 339 yards. His touchdown passes included a 61 yarder to Deebo Samuel and one of 53 yards to Shi Smith with Smith breaking free from tacklers at the 35 and running in from there.
Bentley’s other two touchdown passes went to running back AJ Turner who added an 11 yard rushing touchdown for a three score night.
Muschamp was able to empty his bench and play a lot of freshmen who had seen little or no action this season. That included running back Deshaun Fenwick. Playing in his first game, he rushed 14 times for a team high 95 yards. Rico Dowdle and Ty’son Williams did not play.
Samuel led the receivers with five catches for 112 yards. Bryan Edwards caught four passes for 69 yards and went over 2000 receiving yards in his career, the 10th Gamecock to do so.
Freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner also saw his first game action of the season completing 1-2 passes for one yard and rushing three times for 24 yards. The Gamecocks used four different quarterbacks and 11 different receivers caught passes including a career first for tight end Will Register.
The Gamecocks finished with a season high 602 yards and averaged 7.7 yards per play. They had 364 yards thru the air and 238 yards on the ground.
A lot of new faces also showed up on defense as Muschamp chose to rest several veterans like DJ Wonnum, Aaron Sterling and Steven Montac, all nursing injuries. Wonnum did start and played in the opening defensive series but did not make a tackle.
Also early in the game freshman Jaycee Horn, who was moved from corner to safety for the game, left with a sprained ankle and did not return. Muschamp expects him to be fine for next week. But that forced the insertion of senior walk-on Jason Senn of Beaufort who had never played in a game. He made three tackles.
Freshman linebacker Ernest Jones, seeing his first action of the season, led the defense with five tackles. Another freshman, safety RJ Roderick, added four tackles.
The defense shut down the UTC running game and registered a season low for rushing yards with 78. Mocs quarterback Nick Tiano did pass for 254 yards but completed just 17-36 with one interception.
At 6-4 the Gamecocks not only are assured of a bowl game but a non-losing regular season as well. They will play at Clemson next weekend before returning home to meet Akron in a game that was scheduled to replaced the hurricane-cancelled game against Marshall.
Will Muschamp postgame press conference
Jake Bentley and Shi Smith
AJ Turner and TJ Brunson
Postgame Periscope recap
— SportsTalk (@sportstalksc) November 18, 2018