After a season-opening loss to North Carolina, the South Carolina Gamecocks look to bounce back on Saturday at home in Columbia, S.C. against in-state FCS foe Furman.
The main concern for the Gamecocks (0-1) after experiencing the rush of then-No. 17 North Carolina is the offensive line. South Carolina allowed the Tar Heels to sack quarterback Spencer Rattler nine times, which was the most any FBS team allowed last weekend. The Gamecocks also failed to get a push in the run game, finishing with a net total of minus-2 rushing yards.
South Carolina coach Shane Beamer will shuffle the offensive line against Furman (1-0), largely because of injuries. Right tackle Cason Henry left the game against UNC in the first quarter, and backup left guard Markee Anderson is doubtful to play this week. A pair of true freshmen — Tree Babalade and Trovon Baugh — may get to play against Furman after not seeing any action against the Tar Heels.
"It's been hard continuity-wise to get a solid five now that we're rotating guys around and mixing and matching because we have to develop depth," Beamer said this week. "Watching Tree in practice today and Trovon in practice today, those guys are getting better. It's a race to improve at this point."
Perhaps the most devastating injury the Gamecocks suffered on Saturday was to starting linebacker Mohamed Kaba, who has been ruled out for the rest of the year after damaging his left knee.
Furman is coming off a big 45-10 win over Tennessee Tech on Aug. 31, a game in which the Paladins rushed for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Defense was key for Furman as it came up with four interceptions, including pick-sixes by Travis Blackshear and Dan Scianna.
"We hadn't talked about it much until this week, but this is the most important game on our schedule," Furman coach Clay Hendrix told The State newspaper.
Furman returns 20 starters and is ranked sixth in the latest FCS Coaches Poll.
South Carolina is 28-20-1 all-time against Furman. The Paladins last notched a win in the series in 1982.
Furman last beat an FBS team in 2015, notching a victory over UCF.
—Field Level Media