COLUMBIA, S.C. – Led by quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack, USF has one of the nation’s most dangerous set of rushers.
The two juniors combined for 1.4 miles on the ground and 180 points. As a team, the Bulls are fifth in the country with 291.75 yards rushing per game.
South Carolina is in for quite a test when it meets USF on Dec. 29 at the Birmingham Bowl.
“We definitely have to find a way to slow them down. We are going to have to stop the run,” senior defensive end Darius English said. “That’s something that we struggled with in the past. We have been and will be focusing on that during the bowl practices.”
The Gamecocks ended the regular season among the nation’s worst against the run, giving up 202.82 yards per contest.
Flowers, who leads USF with 1,425 yards rushing, is second nationally among quarterbacks. Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson leads the country with 1,538 yards.
“For any team to have a leading rusher at quarterback, that’s unique,” senior linebacker T.J. Holloman said. “I’ve never seen that before, but he’s a phenomenal player. We’re going to have to buckle down and contain him.”
According to South Carolina junior linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, Flowers is similar to the most recent quarterback the Gamecocks saw.
“As far as speed and running ability, I’d probably say (Clemson quarterback) Deshaun Watson,” Allen-Williams said. “He’ll probably be similar to Deshaun, as far as his ability to move out and throw the ball downfield and run the ball, if you give him too many open lanes.”
That’s the key, according to junior defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth, who chased plenty of dual-threat quarterbacks this season, including Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs and Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight.
“We know what is ahead for the game. We know what to do,” Stallworth said. “The best thing for us to do is keep the quarterback in the pocket. He makes his plays when he starts running around.”
Mack backs the attack
Like so many multi-dimensional quarterbacks, Flowers is partnered with a dangerous back.
“Mack, he’s phenomenal. He’s fast, physical, big. He’s an NFL-style running back,” Holloman said. “We’re going to have a tough time coming up against him, but I think we’ll go out there and embrace the challenge.”
Mack is second among USF rushers with 1,137 yards and tied with Flowers for 15 touchdowns.
“He’s his back. He’s himself. He does what he does,” Sawyer said. “We’re just going to come out and tackle him. We’ve got to wrap up better on defense. We’ve got to tackle better, so we should be good.”