South Carolina Football: Predictions for the two-deep on the Gamecock offense

South Carolina football is replacing a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball this year, so what might that look like when the season starts?
South Carolina football quarterback LaNorris Sellers
South Carolina football quarterback LaNorris Sellers / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina Football Two-Deep Predictions on Offense:
Running Back

The running back position is a difficult one to predict because health is a factor that has to be considered. The Gamecocks return just two scholarship players at the position from last year, and they are scatback Juju McDowell and sophomore Djay Braswell. McDowell hurt his collarbone last fall and re-injured himself this spring. Braswell did not look ready in 2023, but he had a good spring.

The rest of the players factoring into the running back job are newcomers. Rocket Sanders (Arkansas Razorbacks) highlighted the trio of transfers at the position that also included Oscar Adaway (North Texas Mean Green) and Jawarn Howell (South Carolina State Bulldogs). However, Sanders dealt with a knee injury last year and had offseason shoulder surgery that kept him out of spring practice. True freshman Matthew Fuller just enrolled this summer.

Predicting who will play at running back isn't hard, but determining which players will be in the two-deep is a little more complicated:

STARTER, Rocket Sanders

Pending health, former All-American Rocket Sanders seems like a shoo-in to be the starter at running back. After being one of the top-5 backs in the country in 2022, he had an injury-plagued 2023 that kept him out of some games and drastically limited him in others.

If Sanders is back to 2022 form (or even close to it), the Gamecocks have a clear-cut top back who can play the position in any situation. He is a big back, so goal line carries are not an issue, and he has shown some good hands out of the backfield as a guy who played wide receiver in high school.

When asked about Sanders' health, the Gamecock coaching staff has spoken as if he will be ready to go this summer, and if that is the case, Carolina fans will be confident in their team's ability to bounce back from their worst-ever rushing performance last season.

Rocket Sanders should be viewed as the starter at running back unless he's not as healthy as advertised.

BACKUP, Oscar Adaway

Oscar Adaway doesn't have the total numbers that Rocket Sanders put up at Arkansas, and he doesn't have the "wow" film that Jawarn Howell showed at SC State. However, he's a very steady back who put up excellent per-carry numbers in 2023.

For North Texas, Adaway was a part-time player early in the season but came on down the stretch, averaging over 100 yards of offense and scoring 3 touchdowns in his final five games, including back-to-back 100-yard performances on the ground in his last two contests. For the entire season, he rushed for 6 yards per carry.

Adaway is a strong-compact runner (listed at 5'10" and 220 pounds) who bounces off weak tackle attempts. He will make an excellent compliment to Rocket Sanders, and he can take some of the short-yardage carries to reduce the wear and tear from Sanders as the team fights to keep him healthy.

If he gets a medical redshirt from the NCAA for his lost 2021 season (and he should), Adaway will have eligibility in 2025, as well, so he could be a contributor in Columbia for two years.


Juju McDowell is going to play. The senior scatback might get two snaps a game; he might get twenty. But he will play. McDowell has shown an ability to contribute if utilized correctly, and that shouldn't change in 2024. He likely will be listed on the depth chart (potentially as the backup), but he won't be utilized as a true backup. Instead, he will be a situational weapon in the passing game and could get some perimeter runs called for him, too.

Both Jawarn Howell and Djay Braswell are true sophomores who have big-time potential. At least one of them likely will be a contributor this season, but it probably would be best from a roster standpoint if at least one of them could preserve a year of eligibility with a redshirt.

True freshman Matthew Fuller should be headed for a redshirt, but he is talented enough to break into the rotation if injuries or poor play hold back the players ahead of him on the depth chart.