South Carolina soccer game lessons learned against Vanderbilt

South Carolina kind of escaped Saturday’s thriller with Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC).

With a late touchdown pass from quarterback Zeb Noland, USC (4-3. 1-3 SEC) narrowly avoided disaster in a 21-20 victory Saturday at Columbia.

Here are five things we learned from the Gamecocks’ victory:

Zeb Noland could be a long-term answer to quarterback

It may have only been one drive, but Zeb Noland certainly had one hell of a callback to his first move since being forced to pull out of South Carolina’s loss to Georgia there. is one month old because of a hand injury.

Noland completed five of eight passes on a 75-yard, 59-second drive that ended in a touchdown to give USC a late victory over Vanderbilt.

Head coach Shane Beamer said after the game that starter Luke Doty’s foot didn’t quite feel 100% (more details in a second). Beamer and the staff debated whether to get him out of the player before Noland was finally pushed into the contest. All in all, this represented another shining moment in Noland’s whirlwind career in South Carolina.

Beamer added that he will assess the quarterback’s situation after watching the movie, but if Saturday was any indication, Noland looked like he deserved a chance to start when USC travels to Texas A&M next week.

Luke Doty may not be as healthy as we thought

By staying on the quarters, you have to thank Doty for battling the pain he faces.

Beamer said for weeks that his starting caller was starting to become more and more comfortable with the pressure and running on the foot that held Doty during part of the fall camp and the first two games of the season.

Saturday, however, was the first major indication viewers got that the former Myrtle Beach High School star is still working.

It’s unclear if Doty made anything worse on Saturday, but if his health is any indication, there could be a shift change in store next weekend.

ZaQuandre White can be a playmaker

White, like Noland, hadn’t heard from him for a few weeks. Really, it was since the season opener against Eastern Illinois that the former Florida State defenseman had made a major impact.

With Kevin Harris hit briefly and Juju McDowell unavailable for Saturday’s game due to what Beamer called a “liability issue,” White led the Gamecocks with 65 yards on 12 attempts.

South Carolina had struggled to find a consistent running game across four games. In the last two, however, the Gamecocks have come in at least 117 yards in meetings with Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

If White can maintain the form he found on Saturday, he should factor in the offensive equation down the home stretch.

Xavier Legette could have a role in the future

While White shone in his chances, wide receiver Xavier Legette did too.

Legette, who was involved in a motorcycle accident a few weeks ago, told reporters after the game he still had open injuries from the crash. But with his cuts bandaged, the dynamic receiver scored the winning score at the end of Saturday’s game.

Legette ended her night with four catches for 31 yards – the second most each among any Gamecocks wide receivers on the night. His six targets also only followed Josh Vann and Jaheim Bell.

Dakereon Joyner struggled this fall and South Carolina was without Jalen Brooks due to a personal affair on Saturday, according to Beamer. With Brooks expected next week and Joyner flashing a bit against Vanderbilt, Legette could be another room in an increasingly intriguing reception hall.

South Carolina continues to be gritty

It certainly hasn’t been pretty, but South Carolina have already doubled their winning streak a year ago and matched that of the 2019 season.

Granted, that comes with the caveat, the Gamecocks only played SEC games last fall and didn’t have the usual non-conference cushion that comes with a normal year. That said, South Carolina has found ways to win ugly and close.

The wins over East Carolina and, on Saturday, Vanderbilt were tough, close wins. Troy’s game two weeks ago was also uncomfortable in spurts.

The schedule gets tougher from now on with Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M, Clemson and Auburn still on the slate. But if South Carolina can steer clear of the self-inflicted injuries that put them in the situation they found themselves in on Saturday, the Gamecocks should be upbeat late in the game for the rest of the way.

This story was originally published October 17, 2021 5:00 a.m.

Ben Portnoy is the author of football beats for the South Carolina State Gamecocks. He is a five-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner and has been recognized by the Mississippi Press Association and the National Sports Media Association. Portnoy previously covered the State of Mississippi for the Columbus Commercial Dispatch and Indiana football for the Journal Gazette at Fort. Wayne, Indiana.

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