Gamecocks Need Someone to Step Up at Wide Receiver


Before the season began, many fans questioned the depth at wide receiver and wondered who would step up. After a win over North Carolina and heading into the first SEC match-up of the season against Kentucky, the Gamecocks are still searching for someone to step up and help Pharoh Cooper.

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Injuries have plagued the position. Shaq Davidson and Jerad Washington both injured their legs before the first game and are out for the season. Deebo Samuel suffered a hamstring injury and Terry Googer had a bruised thigh during the North Carolina game. It looks like those two guys will be playing against Kentucky, however.

The Gamecocks are frantically searching for someone that can take the focus (at least a little) off of Cooper. Thanks to the injuries, they’ve moved Jamari Smith from cornerback to wide receiver. They’ve also caused Josh Kendall of The State to go into a frenzy about moving Lorenzo Nunez to wide receiver.

Many thought the player that would step up would be Deebo Samuel but he failed to make a catch in the opener, dropping what would have been a Sports Center top 10 acrobatic catch after the ball popped out of his hands when it hit the ground. In fact, the only starting wide receiver to make a catch for positive yardswas Pharoh Cooper who caught 3 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Carlton Heard caught one pass and lost 6 yards. Googer did have two catches for 39 yards.

The other 6 completed passes were caught by Brandon Wilds, 4 for 44 yards, and Jerell Adams, 2 for 18 yards. Obviously looking at the stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story. Mitch threw some bad balls, and North Carolina’s defense played pretty well and took away the passing game.

“They played a four, Cover-2 – it’s not made for throwing the ball all over the place,” Steve Spurrier Jr. said on Wednesday. “It’s made for running the ball, which we did pretty well. They had a good plan to stop the pass, and they certainly did a good job of it.” Regardless of the performance of North Carolina, South Carolina must step up.

The obvious answer is to move Terry Googer into the starting line up and get him more reps. He led the team in yards per catch and showed he could make it happen. It’s probably also time to get some of the freshmen in the game and see what they can do. Jalen Christian came to the team rated a four-star shifty wide receiver. His playmaking ability could be utilized if they find ways to get him open in space. Christian Owens is a tall wide receiver who was moved from the scout team to get reps with the team at the end of practice on Wednesday.

The dark horse is to just put Jamari Smith into the game and see what he can do. I think his experience as a running back and being a part of the offense during his first season could help him. He’s athletically gifted and can make plays if they just find a way to get him the ball. If anything else, he could just go out there and give some solid blocks.

No doubt the Gamecocks are struggling to find some sort of passing game after a discouraging start to the season. Perhaps the experience and reps will help the Gamecocks find the next great receiver. “But I don’t think it was a lack of getting open, per se,” said Spurrier Jr.“But we’ve got to get better and experience everything you talk about with new guys.”