Junior quarterback Stephen Garcia and freshman running back Marcus Lattimore found the endzone twice each on Thursday night to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks (1-0) to a 41-13 victory over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (0-1.)
Garcia went 16-23 for 193 yards and Lattimore in his debut with the Gamecocks carried the ball 14 times for 54 yards and two scores.
Alright well there's your official morning after introduction to this story. Truth be told I don't care about numbers today. The Gamecocks last night proved to me that this years' team is a team that can win. It's a team that's talented enough to win and win big. And it's a team that might actually at the end of the year, play for an SEC championship.
By the way- that's the first time since the Liberty Bowl in 2006 that a Carolina team has put 40+ points on the scoreboard. Impressive? Yeah I'd say so.
Granted, Thursday's win was against a Southern Miss team from Conference USA, but of the teams in the conference the Golden Eagles are one of the elite. I guess. Honestly, being a fan of an SEC team, Conference USA isn't even on my radar.
Getting back to last night: Marcus Lattimore is a true freshman from perennial South Carolina high school powerhouse Byrnes. He made the decision to come to Columbia back in the winter and I knew it was going to be fun for the next four years. This kid has that x-factor - the thing that makes someone special in this game. He has the ability to make holes when they aren't there and can sniff out coverage before the play starts. To be a freshman and have that ability is quite unique. If he can stay out of off-field trouble, I seriously, SERIOUSLY, look for this kid to do great things.
Stephen Garcia impressed me last night as well. After all the distractions and all of the Spurrier "Well, Stephen Garcia isn't real good right now, but anyways..." from spring and fall practices, I was concerned that the junior from Florida was going to go out and fall flat on his face in the season opener. After a rough start, he showed why he is one of the best SEC quarterbacks out there today. Bouncing off of players to score a touchdown and finding the strength to extend his arm past the goal line when being slammed into for his second touchdown of the night. Great all around performance by Garcia, the backfield, and this talented core of wide receivers.
I said yesterday that Carolina has the chance to win eight or more games in 2010. After last night, yeah, I believe that.
South Carolina will open SEC play next Saturday afternoon when the Georgia Bulldogs come to Williams-Brice Stadium for a noon kickoff.