After consecutive outings against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents, South Carolina gets a bit of a break by hosting Charlotte on Saturday night in Columbia, S.C.
Still, that doesn’t change the way Gamecocks’ coach Shane Beamer is preparing this week.
“They have elevated their program over the last few years,” Beamer said of Charlotte this week. “The team that played the other night against Georgia State is the team that I think they felt like they were going to be going into the season.”
Beamer noted how the 49ers (1-3) scored more points in their 42-41 win over Georgia State last week than his Gamecocks (1-2) did in their 35-14 opening victory over the Panthers. The 49ers also scored more points than North Carolina did in its 35-28 win over the Panthers.
“I know North Carolina is playing pretty good offense this year up there in Chapel Hill,” Beamer said. “So, our defense has a big challenge.”
That defense could be missing a few key players due to injuries. Mo Kaba, Cam Smith, R.J. Roderick, Alex Huntley, and Jordan Strachan all sat out last week’s loss to Georgia. And Devonni Reed, David Spaulding and Stone Blanton were hurt against the Bulldogs.
“I would say every single one of them is questionable,” Beamer said.
Charlotte’s Chris Reynolds, who threw five touchdown passes in the 49ers’ comeback win over Georgia State, could pose a real threat. The holder of numerous school records, Reynolds missed Charlotte’s previous two games because of an upper body injury.
With last week’s win over Georgia State, he has engineered six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime during his career as a 49er.
“Just felt a little different knowing he was going to play,” Charlotte coach Will Healy said. “We looked like a different football team.”
This is the first-ever meeting in football between Charlotte and South Carolina. Currently, they do not have a second meeting scheduled.