South Carolina football: top performers through three games

South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Josh Vann (6). Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Josh Vann (6). Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Believe it or not, the 1/4 mark of Shane Beamer’s first season in Columbia is already through. At this point, the team is right about where it should be. They’ve picked up wins over East Carolina and Eastern Illinois, while falling to SEC East favorite Georgia.

With the two wins to start the year, all of the Gamecocks’ preseason goals are still in sight. There’s a path to bowl eligibility with a few more wins. A couple of those could come in the next few weeks as South Carolina faces Troy, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt in consecutive contests.

While the results thus far are what have been expected, how the Gamecocks got to this point has been anything but. An unexpected receiver has emerged as the team’s top go-to target, a coach-turned-quarterback has started the first three contests, and the defense has proven to be the team’s best unit.

At this point, South Carolina’s defense leads the league in interceptions, having taken two back for touchdowns to date. They also rank seventh in the SEC in total defense allowing just 289 yards per game. The Gamecocks rank fifth in pass defense and eighth against the run while allowing just 19 points per contest.

On offense, things have been up and down. The Gamecocks currently rank 13th out of 14 teams in total offense, though that number took a huge shot when facing Georgia last weekend. The rushing attack has been far from what was expected entering the season, and the offensive line has struggled to keep opponents out of the backfield.

Still, a few unheralded players have emerged. Juju McDowell and ZaQuandre White have been the most explosive running backs. Josh Vann, Dakereon Joyner, and Jaheim Bell have made impacts in the passing attack. Hopefully more will step up as the year moves on.

Let’s take a quick look at the Gamecocks’ top performers through three games of the year.