COLUMBIA -- Against N.C. State, Rico Dowdle caught and bullied his way to 78 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Against Missouri, it was Ty'Son Williams's turn.
The redshirt sophomore ran for a career-high 78 yards on 14 carries, including breaking a 32-yard run to set up the Gamecocks’ final touchdown of the night in the 31-13 victory on the road.
It was his first extended game action in his South Carolina career after catching just one pass for five yards against N.C. State. It gave the Gamecock offense another wrinkle.
“I think just wanting to get everybody in there so we get a better feel for it, just get them a different look,” Williams said about the game plan. “They probably haven’t seen much on film. I think we kind of caught them off guard a little bit.”
But Saturday wasn’t just the Williams show.
Dowdle rushed for 48 yards and Deebo Samuel had a go-ahead, 25-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that gave South Carolina a lead it did not relinquish. Samuel also put the team on the board with a 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown.
A.J. Turner had 16 yards rushing and a 23-yard kickoff return.
“It’s very lethal. Like I said, it’s hard to defend,” Williams said. “And it also makes it better on us because we come in the game and each of us are fresh. I think it’s going to be really hard to defend going through this long, hard season.”
Four different Gamecocks caught passes en route to an 18-for-28, 187-yard day for Jake Bentley.
Hayden Hurst caught three passes for 69 yards to lead the team after catching just one pass for minus-two yards in Week One. He also rushed for a touchdown, joking it was the first time he ran the ball since Pop Warner.
Saturday’s 359 yards were the most in a regular season game since putting up 367 against Western Carolina last season. It’s also the sixth time in nine games the Gamecocks (2-0, 1-0 SEC) have scored more than 30 points.
“We felt good going into this game what we could do offensively. We were trying to get Hayden more involved,” Bentley said. “We just try to go out there and score more points than the other team.”
Muschamp attributes some of the offense’s explosiveness to increased athleticism and players having another year in Jeff Dillman’s strength and conditioning program.
The Gamecocks averaged 5.3 yards per play against Missouri and found ways to get versatile players the ball in versatile ways. Samuel had 167 all-purpose yards that included some rushing, receiving and returning.
Hurst caught three passes and also had his two-yard touchdown burst, barreling his way into the end zone to put the game out of reach. Turner also had 39 all-purpose yards and Muschamp said he’s a guy the team has to find new ways to get the ball to him.
“It’s not about plays; it’s about players. That’s what we’ve got dialed up. How are we going to get number one, number 89,” Muschamp said. “We’re going get them the ball, just find different ways to do it.”
Williams maybe stole the show in the second half as the Gamecocks went for 213 second-half yards, 121 on the ground, but Muschamp called Saturday’s game a “great team win” in his postgame speech to his team.
Williams’ performance comes on the heels of a Samuel game last week where the junior had 185 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns.
It can be a spread-the-wealth kind of offense, Bentley said, and the Gamecocks are just going to take what defenses keep giving them.
“We had to find other ways to be effective. Today, Hayden was a guy who made a bunch of plays for us,” he said. “Last week it was Deebo. Who knows, maybe it’s Bryan (Edwards), K.C. (Crosby) or Shi (Smith) next week. We’re just taking what the defense gives us and run with it.”
Samuel honored again
Junior kick returner Deebo Samuel has been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second week in a row.
With the Gamecocks trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, Samuel returned a kick 97 yards for a touchdown. It was the second-straight week he has returned a kick 97 yards to paydirt.
3:30 start for La. Tech
The Gamecocks will host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on Saturday, Sept. 23. Game time has been set for 3:30 p.m. and the contest will be televised on SEC Network.