South Carolina football: week 1 preview and prediction

Sep 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A South Carolina Gamecocks flag is waved. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A South Carolina Gamecocks flag is waved. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 5
south carolina football
South Carolina wide receiver Dakereon Joyner races up the field for a touchdown in 2020.Gw43391 /

South Carolina football: Week 1 preview

Players to watch

Noland landed the keys to the offense after joining the roster in mid August. The transfer played previously at both Iowa State and North Dakota State before initially joining the coaching staff as a graduate assistant at South Carolina.

While he’s the newest member of the team, he’s also one of the oldest and most experienced. Coach Beamer pointed to Noland’s having played last Spring, while no other healthy quarterback on the roster played a college game last year.

Noland won’t be expected to be Patrick Mahomes, but a strong starting performance could allow the Gamecocks to ease Luke Doty into the lineup over the next week or two. The schedule gets much more difficult after week one, with road trips to East Carolina and Georgia looming.

Joyner was one of the most underused players on the roster last year, but he’s been one of the most praised contributors on the team this offseason, earning offensive MVP honors over the Spring. After bouncing between quarterback and wideout over his first few seasons, he’s now at receiver full-time.

Last season, he only saw nine touches on offense, but he’s earned a starting role for the upcoming campaign. The versatile athlete could wind up lining up in a number of different areas, including in the slot, out wide, and in the backfield.

Look for South Carolina to get the ball in Joyner’s hands as much as possible as they search for playmaker on the offense.

McDowell is just a freshman but he’s been able to work his way up the depth chart in an extremely talented running backs room. Another versatile player that could make an impact as a runner, receiver, or returner, he’s expected to see a ton of action against this FCS opponent.

The Gamecocks have a few different options at tailback with Kevin Harris, MarShawn Lloyd, and ZaQuandre White but McDowell has been too good to keep on the sidelines. Lloyd called him the most explosive back on the roster over the offseason, high praise for a room that includes the reigning SEC rushing leader, a five-star recruit, and the top JUCO back in his class.

McDowell may also make an impact at kick returner, as the Gamecocks look to get him as many touches as possible. Keep an eye on this freshman moving forward this year.