After South Carolina's final scrimmage of fall camp, coach Steve Spurrier was disgusted by the play of his offensive line to the point that he labeled them "soft"
Somewhere along the way, the Gamecocks' front five toughened up in time for Thursday night's season-opener against North Carolina.
On a night when all-star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney didn't dazzle, and the Gamecocks' offense didn't produce any great pyrotechnics, South Carolina relied on the running game to ground out a workman-like 27-10 victory over the overmatched Tar Heels.
Sophomore tailback Mike Davis and the offensive line set the tone early and shut the door late. The line sent a message as they blasted the Tar Heels' front seven off the line of scrimmage on consecutive impressive interior runs. When the Tar Heels threatened to make a game out of what was looking like a runaway, Davis put the Heels back in their place, as he got loose on a 75-yard yard run that made it 27-10.
The offensive line was solid throughout the game in both run blocking and pass protection. As Davis racked up 115 or the Gamecocks 228 yards on the ground and the line allowed one sack. The protection they provided for quarterback Connor Shaw allowed him to complete 11 of 19 passes for 149 yards.
"We knew coming in that we had a size advantage on them up front," Shaw said. "We came in wanting to run the football. Our offensive line played really well."
Despite Spurriers' post-scrimmage tirade, a solid effort was more what was expected from an offensive line that is anticipated to be a strength of the team as they return four of five starters from the 11-2 2012 team.
The newby, redshirt freshman center Cody Waldrop, held his ground without any errant snaps, Guards AJ Cann and Ronald Patrick also performed well and tackles Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell did their part to keep Shaw's jersey clean.
There is no doubt that the Gamecocks will face a tougher test next week as they travel to Athens to face SEC East rival Georgia. But, with a running game that is off to a solid start, South Carolina has a great chance to make it four wins in a row against the Bulldogs.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first hand.