Junior wideout Pharoh Cooper rightfully received much of the attention after South Carolina beat UCF 31-14 on Saturday, considering he tallied two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving) to help fuel the Gamecocks’ second-half comeback. But the player who caught Lorenzo Nunez‘s other touchdown pass was perhaps just as important.
With South Carolina clinging to a one-point lead in the third quarter, tight end Jacob August hauled in a 13-yard touchdown reception that put his team ahead, 22-14. A redshirt freshman walk-on from Columbia, S.C., August had only caught two passes entering Saturday’s game. The strike he secured from Nunez turned out to be as critical as it was unexpected.
“In practice, the defense actually leaves August open a lot (on that play),” Nunez said after the game, according to Danny Garrison of TheBigSpur.com.
August’s big catch even earned a shoutout from coach Steve Spurrier during his Sunday teleconference.
“A big play in the game,” Spurrier said. “There were other guys that certainly contributed (on offense) other than Pharoh and Lorenzo.”
August enrolled at South Carolina in January 2014 after spending the previous fall at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Interestingly enough, he had walk-on offers from South Carolina and UGA in high school; both schools were recruiting him as a punter.
Here are a couple of other candidates who deserved props for their performances:
Dante Sawyer, defensive lineman, sophomore
Late in the third quarter, Sawyer supplied the pressure that caused UCF quarterback Bo Schneider to force a throw that linebacker T.J. Holloman easily intercepted. Sawyer also recorded a sack and a tackle for loss.
Mason Zandi, right tackle, redshirt junior
Nunez turned heads when connecting with Cooper on a 35-yard TD pass into double coverage, but what went under-appreciated was the perfect pocket the offensive line created around him. Right tackle Mason Zandi especially stood out during the play, as he absolutely stonewalled the UCF lineman coming at him (you can watch below).
G.A. Magnus (QB coach) and Shawn Elliott (OL coach)
Spurrier receives most of the attention regardless of how well South Carolina plays, but credit Magnus and Elliott, who shared offensive play calling duties with the Head Ball Coach on Saturday, according to Willie Smith of The Greenville News. Both did an excellent job of setting Nunez up for success in the second half, and the formula should continue to work as long as they keep getting the ball in his hands.
— REAL USC (@RealUSC) September 27, 2015
Nuñez breaking down his TD pass to August: "In practice the defense actually leaves August open a lot."
— Danny Garrison (@DannyLGarrison) September 26, 2015