The Gamecocks looked like the JSU offense of old, running the ball down an opponents’ throat until they could stop it. They made FCS history by producing four 100-yard rushers in the same game and set a school record with 523 yards on the ground.
Max Shortell struggled in his first JSU start and was quickly replaced by Eli Jenkins, last week’s starter. Jenkins entered in the fourth possession and directed the Gamecocks to 45 points over the second and third quarters. If there was a shortcoming, it was in the passing game, which produced only seven completions (in 15 attempts) and 45 yards.
The Gamecocks gave up a lot of third-and-long conversions, especially in the first half, but also rose to the occasion when threatened. They gave up a first-quarter touchdown drive, which came after a failed fake punt, but it was the Dolphins’ only sustained touchdown drive. It’s been the only sustained touchdown drive against them in two games.
Pierre Warren returned an interception for a touchdown — his third TD in as many seasons. The unit also held JU to field goals after the Dolphins got inside the 10 in the second quarter and inside the 15 in the fourth.
Coach Bill Clark praised their work.
Griffin Thomas had seven touchbacks among his nine kickoffs and the coverage allowed only 19 yards a return. Thomas also kicked field goals of 36 and 45 yards. Linebacker Ben Endress delivered the most dynamic play when he blocked a punt in the fourth quarter. It was the Gamecocks’ first blocked punt since 2011.
Clark said the Gamecocks might have been a little conservative in last week’s season opener, but that wasn’t the case in the home opener.
They decided to play old-fashion JSU football and run their opponent into the ground. No argument with the results. If there was one misstep, it was calling a fake punt early in the game that failed. Clark said if he had to do it again, he probably would’ve punted.
What’s not to like? The Gamecocks completely dominated their non-scholarship visitors. They rushed for a ton of yards, scored a bunch of points, turned back the Dolphins at basically every turn and won the kicking game. Only a nit-picker would find something wrong with what they saw, but, then, there’s never really a perfect game.