It felt like all season long South Carolina was searching for something on offense. They have struggled to consistently move the ball and score in almost every contest. Since their bye week in late October, they have begun to figure some things out. Zaquandre White has become the Gamecocks offensive spark the last few weeks. His versatility and effort have seen him take over as the lead tailback, and he is now this team’s most important weapon.
Zaquandre White Emerges As Gamecocks Offensive Spark
It took a few seasons for White to find his place on this South Carolina team. He struggled with ball security a season ago and fell down the tailback pecking order because of it. After a Spring practice where he was the only ball carrier available most of the time, he began to solidify his spot. His fumbling issues seem to be in the past, and he has had a stellar year. White started the opener against Eastern Illinois and had his first career 100-yard game.
He didn’t see that ball as much the next two weeks, then got banged up and missed games versus Kentucky and Troy. White did not have a touch at Tennessee either and the South Carolina offense was mired in a slump. He was finally put back on the field the next week and it was clear he was the option to be the Gamecocks offensive spark. White had 12 carries for 65 yards mostly all in the second half in a win over Vanderbilt. Since then, he has been a feature of the South Carolina attack.
Carrying The Load
White’s importance as the Gamecocks offensive spark cannot be overstated. He had 10 or more carries in five games this season. South Carolina is 4-1 in those contests. Since the bye week he has taken the lead role in the backfield, and the Florida native is thriving. White has over 100 yards of offense in each of the last three games. Not only is he running the ball with great effectiveness, but he is also a weapon out of the backfield. He has five catches for 111 yards and two scores the last two games.
White runs with a level of effort that jumps off the screen when watching him. He utilizes his incredible balance and vision to fight through tackles, find holes, and find cut back lanes. He fights for every yard, and despite not being a big power back he is difficult for defenders to bring down. His combination of shiftiness and balance are finally being utilized. He has become the most dangerous player in garnet and black the last few weeks. This past Saturday versus Auburn, he became the first player for South Carolina to have over 95 yards rushing and 65 yards receiving in the same game in over 20 years.
While White became the Gamecocks offensive spark with his big plays in recent weeks, Kevin Harris is getting back to the player he was in 2020. Offseason back surgery hampered him for the first half of the season. He was playing plenty but was not quite the same guy he was last fall when he led the SEC in rushing. Since the bye week, Harris has looked much more like himself. His power runs are a great compliment to the explosive burst that White provides. Harris has 22 career touchdowns on the ground, tying him for ninth all time with current Atlanta Falcon Mike Davis and Jay Lynn Hodgin.
The tailback tandem in garnet and black has helped propel this team to a bowl game in year one under head coach Shane Beamer. The offensive line has also been better the last few weeks, and these two have taken advantage. The pair has combined for over 1,000 yards on the ground. Now they will look to finish the season strong against rival Clemson on Saturday. They will need to have a big game versus a stout Tiger defense. The Gamecocks are 5-1 at Williams-Brice in 2021. A sixth home win would secure a winning record and elevate the level of bowl game they get invited too.