Gamecock Mailbag: Is Luke Doty or Zeb Noland South Carolina’s QB1 going forward?

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South Carolina (2-1) dropped its first game of the season Saturday as it was throttled 40-13 by No. 2 Georgia in Athens.

With a key matchup against Kentucky looming this coming weekend and Luke Doty on the mend, there’s plenty to get to in this week’s mailbag. Let’s get after it.

With Doty showing his potential to be one of the more talented QBs in the SEC, does Zeb Noland find himself behind the line of scrimmage for the remainder of the 2021 schedule ? — Sebastian P.

Let’s start with the quarterbacks, shall we? I think it’s fair to assume this is Luke Doty’s team going forward barring something unforeseen. Of course, the unforeseen happened in preseason when Doty had his foot stepped on and missed close to a month and two games.

Saturday, Doty didn’t look quite comfortable, but that had as much to do with the Georgia defense as it did anything he was doing. There were glimpses throughout the night of why coaches were so high on the former four-star recruit — most notably his 36-yard touchdown pass to Josh Vann in the fourth quarter.

We’ll get more of an update on Noland’s injury status Tuesday afternoon when Shane Beamer speaks with reporters, but Beamer said Sunday the former graduate assistant was struggling to get feeling back in his throwing hand after he hurt it against Georgia. That’s not exactly an encouraging sign.

Noland’s story has been one made for a movie script. Unfortunately, it may be coming to an end. If both he and Doty are healthy, I think this staff will side with the younger of the pair.

Do we have a real quarterback coming in the next recruiting class? — Mike Watford

I’m not sure how to necessarily define “real,” but South Carolina has done a fairly good job getting in the mix with some legitimate quarterback prospects since Beamer took over in December.

Four-star quarterback Braden Davis has been committed to the Gamecocks for close to six months now and brings a nice mix of size and athleticism at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds. Davis also has some NFL pedigree in his family as his father, Antone, was a first round pick out of Tennessee in the 1991 NFL Draft.

South Carolina is also right in the mix for elite 2023 four-star quarterback Dylan Lonergan, who’s expected to be in Columbia this weekend.

Doty is still just a sophomore, but Beamer and his recruiting staff seem positioned to deepen the quarterback room and quickly over the next year or two.

Are we zone blocking or man to man? I can see the OL whiffing on blocks outside his zone if he expects someone else to “get that guy.” Otherwise we’re terrible. Which is it? -- Richie C.

From what I gather, South Carolina has used a mix of both. Now, that hasn’t exactly led to success.

We’ve litigated the offensive line’s struggles in this mailbag for the past couple weeks and I don’t want to continue to bash the guys up front more than needed, but South Carolina seems to have some issues in the trenches.

As Beamer passionately pleaded after Saturday’s loss, some of the problems in Athens came simply because Georgia has a slew of blue-chip prospects to throw at you on a given down. That, however, doesn’t excuse the less-than-ideal line play at East Carolina and against Eastern Illinois.

Kentucky probably poses the closest thing to a litmus test for South Carolina over the next few weeks. If the Gamecocks offensive line can shore up against the Wildcats, we can all take a collective deep breath. If not, the message board banter will surely continue.

Which facet of our offense should help us more in the Kentucky game: the passing game or the running game? — Chris T.

Coming into 2020, South Carolina was lauded for its running back room depth — and rightfully so. There aren’t many programs in America that can tout the four-headed machine that is Kevin Harris, MarShawn Lloyd, ZaQuandre White and Juju McDowell.

Whether it falls on the running backs or offensive line is a legitimate argument to be had, but South Carolina’s tailbacks have struggled some over the past two weeks.

Next they’ll face a Kentucky defense that enters the week with the Southeastern Conference’s tied for fifth in rush defense and fourth passing defense.

Credit to offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield, who’s relied on the passing game perhaps more than we initially thought we’d see through three games. South Carolina, though, needs to find a way to steady its run game this weekend against Kentucky.

Why does Beamer clap so much, even after horrible plays? — Joseph H.

I mean, have you heard the guy talk in press conferences? Shane Beamer is like the real world manifestation of the Energizer Bunny.

Beamer’s charisma has been a welcome change in Columbia after Will Muschamp was fired midway through last season.

Coaches are, at their core, motivators. Just because Beamer is clapping up a storm after a bad play doesn’t mean he’s happy with the effort. No need to dissect this like the Zapruder film. It’s just who he is.

Ben’s best

Yesterday I spent my off day popping into a record store for the first time in months. I came away with a couple discs, but I haven’t had the chance to spin them yet.

Sticking to that tune (no pun intended), here are five of my favorite albums of all-time:

  1. London Calling — The Clash

  2. Abbey Road — The Beatles

  3. Darkness on the Edge of Town — Bruce Springsteen

  4. Shakedown Street — The Grateful Dead

  5. The Dark Side of the Moon — Pink Floyd

Honorable mentions:

  • Thriller — Michael Jackson

  • Blood on the Tracks — Bob Dylan

  • Born to Run — Bruce Springsteen

  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars — David Bowie

  • Electric Ladyland — Jimi Hendrix

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