South Carolina football: five takeaways from the season opener

A general view of Williams-Brice Stadium. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
A general view of Williams-Brice Stadium. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /
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Shi Smith #13 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

A few takeaways from the South Carolina football opener.

2. The cornerback unit is talented, but lacks depth.

The Gamecocks allowed Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano to throw for more than 250 yards in the season opening loss, giving up huge chunks of yardage on multiple occasions. Much of that production came in the second half, as the Vols scored 17 of their 24 total offensive points after the intermission.

One reason for that could’ve been the absence of starter Israel Mukuamu, who left the game with an injury at halftime. After Mukuamu’s departure, the Tennessee offense went after freshman corner Cam Smith, and succeeded time after time as the youngster looked overmatched. Guarantano’s go-ahead touchdown pass to Josh Palmer in the fourth quarter was a display of Smith’s night in a nutshell. It was Tennessee’s only passing score of the game.

Neither Smith nor sophomore John Dixon could provide defense to the Volunteer passing attack, which allowed the Vols to keep the lead despite the Carolina offense scoring 17 second half points of their own.

3. Shi Smith can be the No. 1 target.

Shi Smith was one of the bright spots for the South Carolina offense, hauling in 10 catches for 140 yards and a score. He and signal caller Collin Hill were clicking all night, which hopefully will yield good things moving forward for the Gamecock unit.

Smith is moving into the lead role for the Gamecocks’ wideout rotation following the departure of all-time leading receiver Bryan Edwards. Smith tallied just under 500 yards receiving in 2019, but some were skeptical that he could make the move as the go-to target in the Carolina offense. He proved that he can shoulder the load with his Saturday night performance.