COLUMBIA – Perry Orth will have extra motivation when the University of South Carolina enters Davis Wade Stadium for its game Saturday against Mississippi State.
Orth’s younger brother Evan, a sophomore quarterback for South Alabama, has been there and done that. The Jaguars preceded the Gamecocks to Starkville, Mississippi, and left with a 21-20 victory.
That means Orth is under pressure to match the success of his brother’s team.
“Definitely, since he went down there and got them,” Orth said this week. “I’ve got a little bit of extra edge to going down there and getting that win. But he’s helped out a bunch and he’s going to help out through the rest of the week as we get ready to play.”
Orth will be under center when the USC offense first takes the field. As happened a week ago against Vanderbilt, freshman Brandon McIlwain is expected to receive playing time, but the senior will be counted on to carry most of the offensive load.
Unlike a week ago when the USC fans made up more than one-third of the audience in Nashville, the Gamecocks will face one of the rowdier crowds in a league known for its fanatics. But this is not Orth’s first rodeo, and he’s confident he be prepared for what awaits.
“My mom has been sending me video with the cowbells and all that stuff. She was down at the game on Saturday," Orth said. "I’m not going to sit here and say Mississippi State’s environment isn’t good, because I know it is. It is a tough place to play but, you know, we’ve played in big time places, too. This will be another big road test in the SEC.”
The Gamecocks had their problems in their opener. While the defense held the Commodores to 242 yards, 169 came from their rushing game.
Defending against the run was a problem for Carolina a year ago. It will face more of a challenge against Mississippi State.
Bulldogs reserve quarterback Damien Williams is a running threat; he picked up 93 yards rushing against South Alabama in relief of starter Nick Fitzgerald.
MSU coach Dan Mullen has been mum on how his quarterback rotation will work Saturday, but USC will have to account for the likelihood of a running quarterback.
"If it is a quarterback in a one-back (alignment), that’s a two-back run,” said USC coach Will Muschamp. “It has created an extra gap. If it is a two-back set with a quarterback, it is now a three-back run.
“It always creates the extra gap. It always creates the extra threat. Those are always issues you have to deal with when you deal with a team that is ... committed to running ... the quarterback, and they are. They can outnumber you in the running game easily.”
Willie T. Smith, The Greenville News