By the time Jason Brown replaced Zeb Noland at quarterback against Texas A&M, South Carolina was down 44-0 with less than 15 minutes left in the game. The Gamecocks had 15 yards of offense and two first downs, and Noland had been sacked three times.
USC’s offense under Brown accumulated 170 yards, with Brown passing for 84. The late-game effort prevented South Carolina from being shut out for the first time since the 2018 Belk Bowl (a 28-0 loss to Virginia) or totaling less than 100 yards of offense for the first time since 1973 (51 yards vs. Ole Miss).
The Gamecocks still lost to the Aggies 44-14, but Brown impressed head coach Shane Beamer. The senior transfer from FCS St. Francis (Pennsylvania) went 8-for-14 passing for 84 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, saving South Carolina from leaving College Station with a historically bad day on the stat sheet.
“The moment wasn’t too big for him,” Beamer said postgame. “He sat in the pocket and made some throws. Certainly some throws that he would like to have back and that maybe were a little off ... but for his first game action, I thought he came in and did a great job.”
Brown saw some playing time in South Carolina’s season-opening rout of Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4, completing four of his five attempts for 45 yards. He attempted one pass at Georgia on Sept. 18 after Noland fell injured and Luke Doty’s helmet fell off on a play.
Noland started the Texas A&M game after Doty underwent season-ending foot surgery the week prior. The former graduate assistant coach-turned-quarterback couldn’t get comfortable in front of the Aggies’ defensive front, left scrambling and without room to throw throughout the first three quarters. Noland left the game going 7 of 12 for 30 yards.
Noland spent the majority of the preseason helping coach Brown, Doty and the rest of South Carolina’s quarterback room. Noland stepped in after Doty initially injured his foot in August and beat Brown for the starting job, but Brown was put in at Texas A&M after Noland struggled.
“Jason did a great job,” Noland said after the game. “He moved around in the pocket well, great communication on the field. What more could you ask for than go down there and get 14 points at the end of the game in the fourth quarter?”
In his weekly press conference before the Texas A&M game, offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield said Brown knew there would be a chance he’d go out against the Aggies. Satterfield expressed no hesitancy to play Brown and said the QB had been practicing well throughout the week.
“I have no issue when JB goes in the game,” Satterfield told reporters Wednesday. “I wasn’t ever disappointed with him, but where he’s come from in the spring to where he is now is light years, just from communication, just the comfort with the offense and what we’re asking him to do.”
Though the game had been put away by the Aggies once Brown stepped in, Beamer rejected the notion that South Carolina was playing against Texas A&M’s second- and third-string defense for all of the second half.
“Certainly they had some down-the-line guys in there, but I saw some of their top guys in there in the second half as well,” Beamer said. “Let’s not chalk it up to, ‘They had the backups in there and we just went up and down the field on them.’ We had some good players we were blocking, competing, throwing and catching against. I thought Jason did well. He’s a gamer.”