South Carolina looks to end skid vs. Jacksonville State

Field Level Media

November 01, 2023 at 10:18 am.

The South Carolina Gamecocks might be down, but they’re not out.

That’s the message from coach Shane Beamer, whose team steps out of the rugged Southeastern Conference to host Jacksonville State of Conference USA on Saturday afternoon in Columbia, S.C.

South Carolina (2-6) fell to 1-5 in the SEC when it lost 30-17 to Texas A&M last weekend in College Station, Texas. Now Beamer’s team needs victories in its last four games — all in Columbia — to reach six wins and gain bowl eligibility.

If that appears somewhere between highly unlikely and downright impossible, nobody told the players.

“You would have thought we were playing for the freaking Super Bowl the way we practiced out there today,” Beamer said Tuesday at his weekly press briefing.

Quarterback Spencer Rattler has completed 69.5 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,117 yards and 12 touchdowns. The offense is averaging 25.4 points per game.

However, South Carolina’s downfall has been its defense: No. 106 of 130 FBS teams in scoring defense at 31.5 points per game, and 114th in total defense (435 yards per game).

An additional problem for Beamer came Sunday when defensive back DQ Smith, who was ejected against Texas A&M after a targeting penalty, lost his appeal to the NCAA and will have to sit out the first half on Saturday.

Jacksonville State (7-2) is looking to capitalize, although it enters as a 15-point underdog.

Coach Rich Rodriguez’s team has played its last five games on weeknights, leading to the tag of a “reality show.”

“The five-week reality show is over, and now it’s a normal Saturday. It’s not normal when you’re playing an SEC team on the road, but at the same time, it’s a great opportunity,” Rodriguez said.

“If you polled most of our players, it’s like, yeah, I love playing an SEC team or playing against the best to measure themselves, and that’s what they get to do this weekend.”

The tag-team quarterback duo of Zion Webb and Logan Smothers have combined to throw for 1,386 yards and eight touchdowns with five interceptions, and running back Malik Jackson is averaging 5.4 yards a carry en route to 615 yards.

In Jacksonville State’s 41-16 defeat of host Florida International in Miami on Oct. 25, Webb threw for 105 yards and one score, and rushed for 125 yards and two more touchdowns.

Saturday’s game will mark the first time that collegiate teams using the Gamecocks mascot have faced each other.