How Bryan Edwards plans on filling the Deebo Samuel void
Eight years after Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore represented South Carolina at SEC Media Days, one of the greatest wide receiver-running back combinations in South Carolina history was again a relevant topic.
Greg McElroy talked about them in almost fear. Bryan Edwards talked about them with great pride.
Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency hotel featured both USC and Alabama. The Crimson Tide spoke in the morning. The Gamecocks spoke in the afternoon. Less than two months from now, they’ll be on the same field.
Nick Saban’s dynasty is coming to Williams Brice-Stadium on Sept. 14 for the first time in nearly a decade. For the first time since Jeffery, Lattimore and Stephen Garcia pieced together a 35-21 win over the then-No. 1 Tide.
“I remember Alshon Jeffery taking over the game,” said McElroy, the Alabama quarterback on Oct. 9, 2010, who’s now an SEC Network analyst.
“I remember Marcus Lattimore, Stephen Garcia, Alshon Jeffery one-handed catch with a guy draped all over him,” said Edwards, a Conway native and senior Carolina receiver. “I’m a South Carolina kid, so I remember it like it was yesterday. It kind of set the state of South Carolina on fire.
“So I would love to do that again this year.”
USC hasn’t faced Alabama since 2010, something related directly to the SEC’s expansion and the fact the programs are in opposite divisions. The mighty Tide of the West is 23-0 against East Division foes since that loss to the Gamecocks.
Before USC attempts to end that streak, it faces North Carolina on Aug. 31 and Charleston Southern on Sept. 7. But the opportunity in Week 3 can’t be overlooked.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Edwards. “Alabama’s a great team every year. They have great players. It’s going to be a dog fight.”
“They’re a great team,” added senior quarterback Jake Bentley. “That’s why you come to the SEC, to play the best. And we’re ready to go.”
Besides Saban talking up his friend and former assistant coach — “We have a lot of respect for Will (Muschamp), what he’s done, South Carolina, the team they have. That’s always a challenging place to play” — Alabama on Wednesday wasn’t boiling over in anticipation of Sept. 14.
The Tide, likely a top-3 team when preseason polls roll out, opens with Duke in Atlanta and then hosts New Mexico State as its USC tune-up.
“I look forward to every game of the season, but this will be my first time playing at South Carolina,” said Tide linebacker Dylan Moses. “I’ve watched them play a lot in my years being in college. I don’t know, I’m really just ready for the challenge.”
Alabama last season beat Tennessee in Knoxville (58-21) in front of 97,000 and LSU in Baton Rouge (29-0) in front of 102,000.
“I just want to see how their fan base is,” said receiver Jerry Jeudy, “if they’re LSU or Tennessee, loud. But it’s going to be my first time playing there, so it’ll be exciting to see how it is.”
It’s rare when a team can claim an Alabama game isn’t the hardest on its schedule. But that could be the case with the daunting slate ahead for South Carolina. A month after facing the Tide, the Gamecocks face Georgia in Athens. On Nov. 30, reigning national champion Clemson comes to Williams-Brice.
“It’ll be exciting to see,” said SEC Network analyst Chris Doering. “That’s a great barometer for where your program is. Going against Alabama, whether you win or you lose, at least you kind of have an idea of where you stand against the best.”