South Carolina football: Confident Doty ready to resume 'big-time QB play'
It was as if Shane Beamer was making his pitch to an NFL scout or front office executive ahead of an upcoming Draft.
The topic was Luke Doty’s talent, and how he used used the different traits needed in a successful quarterback to make a productive play.
“The throw he made across the middle to Jalen Brooks, that was a big-time quarterback play,” Beamer said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference. “He stepped up in the pocket with elite ball security, knew he was going to get hit, 99 (Georgia’s Jordan Davis) comes right past him, throws the ball in there to JB and it was a big-time play, a big-time quarterback play. Excited for his potential going forward.”
And that wasn’t even the play where Brooks made a one-handed grab down the right sideline.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 19, 2021
If Beamer is to turn this program around, he’ll need to do it against the likes of Kentucky, which has beaten South Carolina in 6 of the past 7 matchups. From a more short-term perspective, the Gamecocks’ bowl picture likely hinges on this result. And Beamer will need more plays like that from Doty and those receivers.
It is one thing to do it against the No. 2 team in the country when trailing 40-13 with around 5 minutes remaining. This week will show if Doty can make those same kinds of throws against a more beatable, albeit unbeaten, team at home in Kentucky. If the old cliche of teams improving the most from Week 1 to Week 2 also holds true for quarterbacks, the Gamecocks’ chances are in good shape with Doty entering his 2nd game of extended action, and his 1st start.
“Going in there early, I hadn’t gotten much game action in a little while. But I definitely felt like as the game went on, I was able to just kind of settle down, slow things down a little bit,” Doty said of his appearance against Georgia. “I felt like I was rushing some things here and there, throwing the ball down the field being the biggest thing.”
Josh Vann, who made another dazzling catch down the left sideline for a 36-yard touchdown, believes the chemistry will return.
Vann the man with the TD.
— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) September 19, 2021
“It was nice to have Luke back out there. When you look at it, you can tell that he’s trying to find his rhythm again,” Vann said. “It’s good to connect with Luke, and we’ve just got to build from that.”
Both of those throws highlighted Doty’s ability to throw downfield, which was a simmering concern in fall camp and a question for fans and media.
For 2 weeks, Beamer has said that Doty worked to get to 100 percent physically. Because he didn’t start, the coaching and medical staffs didn’t believe completely in his ability to compete at a high level while fully healthy. He practiced all last week, and apparently he didn’t have lingering soreness in his foot, but Zeb Noland got the start against the No. 2 Bulldogs.
Physically, Doty passed the test.
“I definitely think I’m going to keep getting better at the things I need to work on, throwing the ball down the field, moving around in the pocket, just escaping, using my legs,” he said. “Once we kind of got into a rhythm, I was able to do that, and I was able to kind of settle in and get comfortable.”
Doty leads the positive atmosphere the Gamecocks continue to promote, and he believes it will translate to wins. Moments after that lopsided loss to Georgia, he maintained that the Gamecocks have what it takes.
“I still think I got a lot of things to work on. Getting that first little bit of game action against them was unbelievable,” Doty said. “… We’ve got a helluva team, helluva defense, helluva offense, special teams, all around. We all believe in each other, so we’re just going to keep pushing forward.”
Doty’s demeanor in the face of pressure is one of his strongest traits, and it was on display in Sanford Stadium. Beamer has openly asked for a big-time homefield environment this week from the garnet-and-black faithful, and there’s every reason to believe this Kentucky game will have some white-knuckle plays for the Gamecocks offense. What’s more, there are hostile road environments coming in Knoxville and College Station for Doty to deliver.
“I think there was certainly a calm with Luke,” Beamer said “Luke is a younger guy, and if you think about it, he never played in front of a hostile crowd on the road because of COVID protocols, so he’s at quarterback playing in an environment in front of more than 20,000 fans. I was worried because he hadn’t been in that environment. I went to some of the (other players) and said, ‘Help Luke, get him going.’ and he didn’t need their help. He was as calm as he could be.”