South Carolina's Shi Smith Embracing Role As WR1
If the Saturday night’s South Carolina’s 31-27 loss to No. 16 Tennessee showed anything, it’s that Shi Smith is ready to be the primary option on offense.
The senior had 10 catches for 140 yards, 1 touchdown and said after the game he was ready to have his number called.
“Oh yeah definitely I mean we came in all week talking about it,” he said. “Just give me the ball early and just let me get started.”
Smith has played behind the likes of Deebo Samuels and Bryan Edwards and said he’s enjoying the role of WR1.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m a competitive guy, I love having a ball in my hands and I love making plays,” he said.
It was grad transfer Collin Hill’s first time under center in the SEC and he and Smith looked comfortable throughout the game. USC head coach Will Muschamp said his upperclassmen played exactly how they should’ve.
“I thought those guys played really well offensively in the second half,” Muschamp said. “They gave us an opportunity to win the game and we need to play better on the defensive side of the ball. They played the way we expected them to play.”
Smith was pulled on third down during the Gamecocks’ final drive of the night after nearly getting into an altercation with the Tennessee defense. Muschamp said it was to combat fatigue, not because tempers were flaring.
“No he was gassed as much as anything and so we had subbed him because of the play that we had called in that situation and felt good about the call,” he said.
While Smith proved he’s capable carrying the brunt of the offensive workload, the Gamecocks still must have production from other skill players. Smith finished the night with 10 catches, while tight end Nick Muse, wide receiver Xavier Legette and running backs Kevin Harris, Deshaun Fenwick and ZaQuandre White combined for 14 receptions.
Muschamp said Saturday that he still believes they played within the flow of the game and he’s confident in the options he has on offense.
“Obviously Shi had a hot hand and we had some things designed to go to him,” Muschamp said. “Xavier made a couple of really nice plays and obviously the 42 yarder there. Nick been a guy that's been a threat over the middle. We've like throwing the ball our backs in camp. Deshaun and Kevin and ZaQuandare have all caught the ball well out of the backfield and Dakereon [Joyner] has done a nice job. We had a bunch of guys play, I just don't know that we got the balls to them. Sometimes the primary reads going somewhere else at this time, but I think those guys can all help us.”