The 2015 college football season is officially underway and the North Carolina Tar Heels faced off against their rival South Carolina Gamecocks to open the year. It was a very good game all the way through, but Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks were able to come through with a big 17-13 victory.
North Carolina led most of the game, but key mistakes by quarterback Marquise Williams did them in. He threw two interceptions on the evening and both of them were very poor decisions. His second interception was late in the game and was thrown directly to a South Carolina defensive back in the end zone.
It was a very disappointing loss for the Tar Heels, but they did show quite a bit of talent on their roster. Spurrier has to be happy with the way his team played, even though they made some bad mistakes as well.
That being said, what are the five biggest takeaways that can be taken from tonight’s game for either team?
1. Connor Mitch Has a Very Bright Future
Perhaps the biggest bright spot for South Carolina on the night was the play of sophomore quarterback Connor Mitch. He completed just nine of his 22 passing attempts, but put up 122 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Mitch also picked up 44 yards on the ground in 10 attempts.
Having a dual-threat quarterback is a huge plus for Spurrier and it will give South Carolina an advantage against most defense they face. Things will get tougher from here for the Gamecocks, but they perform well enough to get the win against a very good first opponent. Mitch will be asked to continue stepping up throughout the rest of the season and it appears that he is ready to do so.
2. Marquise Williams Must Work on His Decision-Making
As previously mentioned, the main reason that North Carolina lost the game was due to poor decision-making from multiple players. Marquise Williams was extremely disappointing this evening in situations where his team needed him to step up, which leaves quite a bit of work for him to do. He will have to make better decisions with his passing moving forward for the Tar Heels to win football games, but fans shouldn’t worry about him too much as he has an excellent work ethic.
3. Shon Carson Will Be a Major Playmaker for South Carolina
South Carolina’s offense had a bit of trouble breaking off big plays against North Carolina’s defense, but Shon Carson came into the game and changed that in a hurry. Carson took a handoff and took it 48 yards for a touchdown, which ended up being the game-winning touchdown. That type of playmaking is a major plus for the Gamecocks and Carson is more than ready to step into a big role.
Carson ended the game with four carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, and showed off the potential to do even more with more playing time in the future.
4. Elijah Hood Has Top Running Back Potential
One of the biggest bright spots for the Tar Heels was the play of sophomore running back Elijah Hood. He finished the game with 13 carries for 138 yards, which rounds out to a very impressive 10.6 yards per carry. North Carolina should choose to feature him as their running back next game, and may very well have a workhorse in the making.
5. South Carolina Is a Team to Keep an Eye On
While defeating the Tar Heels isn’t something that they should boast about too much, it is still a quality win for South Carolina. Spurrier was hoping to see his team make some improvements from what they showed in practice and they were able to do just that.
South Carolina was able to intercept three passes, which is a huge step in the right direction from a defensive standpoint. They were also able to see that they have a “Big Three” offensively in Mitch, Carson and Pharoh Cooper that can make big plays at any moment. It certainly makes them a more intriguing team than some were expecting, and they are a team to keep an eye on over the next few weeks to see how they continue developing.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports