South Carolina football has been tinkering with its quarterback rotation this week following a preseason injury to projected starter Luke Doty over the weekend. Doty was stepped on late in practice Saturday resulting in a foot sprain that could keep him on the sidelines for the season opener versus Eastern Illinois.
Head coach Shane Beamer has talked a bit on the race between Jason Brown and Colten Gauthier as the Gamecocks search quickly for Doty’s replacement. Beamer also mentioned the installation of some creative packages for former quarterback turned wide receiver Dakereon Joyner, though Joyner is still spending the majority of his time in the wideout room.
Now, there’s another name in the hat. Graduate assistant Zeb Noland has been added to the South Carolina football roster. Noland made previous stops at Iowa State and North Dakota State, but he’d opted to forego his final season of eligibility to join the staff in a coaching role for the Gamecocks.
Now, he finds himself in the midst of a quarterback battle that could have implications on game one of the South Carolina football season. Does the newcomer have a chance to play this Fall?
South Carolina football searching for answers at QB
Noland played two seasons in the Big XII, where coach Beamer became familiar with his talents. In those two years, the passer threw for 1,255 yards and six scores with a 60.2% accuracy rate. He tossed just two interceptions over his 176 attempts.
Noland played in five contests with Iowa State in which he recorded more than 25 pass attempts, with the Cyclones posting a 2-3 record in those matchups. He notched 180 yards in four of the five games, with his most notable performance being a 2018 outing versus Oklahoma in which he threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns.
Following his stint with the Cyclones, Noland transferred to North Dakota State, but ultimately lost out to first-round pick Trey Lance for the starting role.
Now, he comes to South Carolina with a final season to make an impact. Coach Beamer stated that he’ll get a chance to play if he can perform well in practice.
“He arrived here in June as a graduate assistant… I saw Zeb in 2018 (when I was at) Oklahoma with Kyler Murray… It was a back and forth game. He went to North Dakota State and was Trey Lance’s backup. He has great experience, and most importantly has played in a football game a heck of a lot more recent than anyone else on this team. North Dakota State had a spring football season. While our guys were going through spring practice, Zeb was playing in games.”
“If he earns the opportunity to play and help us win football games, he will.”
Does Noland have a chance to start the season opener?
While Noland does add some Power Five experience, he’s a longshot to earn the starting job over two players that have been practicing with the team since the Spring. Brown and Gauthier have a clear advantage having learned the system over the last few months, while Noland didn’t join the program in an assistant role until June.
This is still going to be a battle between the players that have gone through Spring and Summer workouts, but Noland does add quality depth to a position group that’s lacking it at the moment.