Will Muschamp: Deebo Samuel should 'absolutely' be a Heisman contender

Frederick Owens
September 13, 2017

That's why SC has emerged as at least a 7-point favorite over Kentucky going into Saturday night's game in Columbia.

The Gamecocks, specifically Deebo Samuel, have returned two kickoffs for touchdowns already this season, and that's not the only area in which their special teams have excelled. A lot of it, some of the things we implemented in the offseason - I think the yoga was a huge part of the flexibility that's helped our football team overall. Then, on Saturday at Missouri, he punched in a 25-yard rushing touchdown. Instead, the ball landed in Samuel's hands on the 3-yard line. Twice kicker Austin MacGinnis had to make tackles and at least one appeared to have saved a touchdown.

"You now see", SC quarterback Jake Bentley said, "how he can change the game by himself".

Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson rushes with the ball during the Wildcat's game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Commonwealth Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. Samuel still led the team with 59 catches and 783 receiving yards.

"Everybody wants to see [Deebo's returns] because we know what we've got back there returning the ball", said Gamecocks defensive back and punt returner Chris Lammons.

Through the first half of Saturday's game, it looked like more of the same for SC as the Gamecocks gained only 51 yards on the ground.

Whether it's making red zone stops or forcing turnovers, SC has made the right defensive plays at the right time. So we don't need any more motivation than that. SC expanded its 14-10 halftime lead with a dominant second half. "I'm glad he's on my team and we don't have play against every week". He has 352 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns in two games. Hurst had two touchdowns - one of 39 yards through the air and another of 2 yards on the ground - doubling his touchdown total from his first two seasons at SC. However, South Carolina ground out 121 rushing yards in the second half, and Ty'Son Williams finished with a game-high 78 yards on 15 carries. It gave the Gamecock offense another wrinkle.

Lock completed 14 of 32 passes for 245 yards, with two interceptions. Moore had three catches for 29 yards and dropped two passes.

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The Gamecocks, who won only one road game a year ago in compiling a 6-7 record, have now won two games away from home this season.

They see the way he's played through two games and think he could be playing his way to some early-season Heisman buzz. "He's a hard runner", Muschamp said. "We didn't play particularly well on the road a year ago". "We have three really good backs".

The game in SC has already been announced as a blackout, as the game will be the Gamecocks' home opener. Missouri outgained SC 423-359, but the Gamecocks were plus-three in turnovers and had Samuel's big kickoff return. Odom said Crockett has a bruised tailbone but should be available next week. It was the second-straight week he has returned a kick 97 yards to paydirt.

This season, Bentley has similar stats to Johnson, throwing for 402 yards with a 61.4 completion percentage, four touchdowns and one interception.

"If one man can change the game so much, I think he deserves to be on that list and get national attention".

Kentucky has looked less than stellar in its first two games, only beating Southern Miss by a touchdown and only beating EKU by 11 points.

Missouri: The Tigers face Purdue at home Saturday.

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