I gotta admit that this is a VERY shaky win for SC (sorry steeld)... I would have expected a much bigger score deficit... Especially for a Spurrier-coached team. But a win is a win... Onward to the next opponent....
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September 28, 2008
Garcia lends spark to offense in University of South Carolina's win vs. UAB
By Mandrallius Robinson
STAFF WRITER


Stephen Garcia scores on a 5-yard touchdown run.

COLUMBIA -- During the first four games of the season, the University of South Carolina’s offense was shaky as a candle flame.

However, hosting the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Saturday night, the Gamecocks finally caught fire.

Behind redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia, the Gamecocks gained 353 yards of total offense, blazing to a 26-13 victory before 78,286 fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Garcia ignited the offense with his mobility out of the pocket, rushing for 67 yards on 14 carries in the first half alone. That is 36 yards more than the two other quarterbacks on the depth chart, Chris Smelly and Tommy Beecher, managed in the first four games combined.

Garcia finished with 86 rushing yards on 18 carries. He completed 13 of 20 pass attempts for 131 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“He did some good things today,” head coach Steve Spurrier said. “His rushing was what really helped us. Obviously, we’ve got to let Garcia play, and he’s got to live with his mistakes.”

As unstable as the offense has been, USC’s defense has been contrarily solid. The Gamecocks entered the game allowing 225 yards of total offense per game. They limited UAB to 207, keeping the Blazers from recording a first down until the 6:34 mark of the second quarter.

USC held the Blazers to 67 rushing yards, marking the second time this season the Gamecocks have allowed fewer than 100. North Carolina State managed only 89 against USC in the season-opener.

“They’re very physical up front,” UAB coach Neil Callaway said. “They do a great job scheme-wise, matching up and recognizing what you’re doing. They pressed us. They’re better than Tennessee. They’re the best defense we’ve played against.”

After failing to score in the first quarter during three of their last four games, the Gamecocks fired on their first possession Saturday night.

Smelley, the starter, completed three of his first five pass attempts, but the Gamecocks picked up 20 of the drive’s 43 yards on a pair of pass interference penalties.

The second flag awarded the Gamecocks a first down at the 27-yard line, but USC managed only 1 yard in the next three plays, settling for Ryan Succop’s 44-yard field goal.

South Carolina (3-2) held UAB to its second straight three-and-out, but the Blazers reclaimed possession two plays into the ensuing drive, as USC running back Eric Baker was stripped by Bryant Turner.

Keon Harris recovered the ball for the Blazers at the 19.

Although they were backed up 2 yards in the next three plays, the Blazers evened the game at 3, as Swayze Waters drilled a 38-yard field goal.

The Blazers (1-3) bailed out the Gamecocks again on the next drive. On first-and-10 at the 47, Garcia launched a pass towards a streaking Gamecock, but UAB’s Kevin Sanders broke on the ball for an interception. However, an offsides penalty negated the play.

South Carolina then drove 42 yards on nine plays. Garcia capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Anderson native Brian Maddox, his first career TD catch.

On third-and-3, Maddox cut across Garcia in the backfield and slipped into the flat undetected. Garcia quickly tossed the ball to Maddox, who skipped into the end zone untouched, lifting the Gamecocks to a 10-3 lead.

South Carolina drove 57 yards to the 1-yard line on its next possession, but the bending Blazers did not break. On third-and-goal at the 6, Garcia rolled out of the pocket and sprinted to the left.

Assuming he could slip into the end zone, Garcia ran upright towards the pylon, but he was quickly lowered at the 1 by UAB defensive back Brandon Carlisle.

USC went for the end zone on fourth down, but Maddox was stopped in the backfield for a 1-yard loss.

Garcia made certain he crossed the goal line the next time he faced a third-and-goal play. On a quarterback draw from the 5, Garcia sprinted around the left side and jumped between two UAB defenders into the end zone, extending the lead to 17-3 with 7:24 left in the half.

On the next drive, UAB raced 59 yards on 12 plays. Waters trimmed the deficit to 17-6 with another 38-yarder.

Garcia had a hand in 46 of the Gamecocks’ 48 yards along the ensuing drive. He completed two of three pass attempts for 17 yards and rushed four times for 29 yards, setting up Succop’s 48-yard field goal, as USC led 20-6 at halftime.

Succop extended the margin to 17 points with 7:55 left in the third, nailing a 26-yarder.

Despite Garcia’s solid play, Spurrier still spun every horse on his QB carousel, reinstalling Smelley on USC’s first two drives of the fourth quarter.

Beecher entered with around 10 minutes left to play and led the Gamecocks to a score, as Succop kicked a career-high fourth field goal with 2:23 remaining.

The Gamecocks managed their first back-to-back victories since 2007 and hope to extend the modest streak next week against Ole Miss.