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In one of the wildest SEC stories of the season, South Carolina football will start a graduate assistant coach at quarterback this weekend.
Zeb Noland, who previously played at North Dakota State and Iowa State, will take the starting snaps Saturday for its season opener against Eastern Illinois at Williams-Brice Stadium, head coach Shane Beamer said.
Noland has been sharing reps in practice with redshirt senior Jason Brown, an FCS transfer who will serve as backup, according to the depth chart. Noland came to South Carolina squarely to begin a career in coaching, but after a foot injury to presumed starter Luke Doty this summer, the Gamecocks coaching staff decided to suit up Noland, who still has a year of eligibility left.
He was only supposed to provide some depth and experience to the quarterback room, a coach with a clipboard, if you will. But here we are, opening week of the 2021 season, and the coach is now starting.
“If I do get the opportunity to start on Saturday, September 4,” Noland said last week, “I’m going to be excited and go have fun and, and just enjoy it.”
Even before Doty was injured, Beamer and offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield joked this summer that Noland might be needed at some point this season. Noland did have a cup of coffee in the NFL, so he’s no stranger to at least being around high-level competition. Maybe his maturity and appreciation for this unique opportunity will bring something special to Columbia this season.
“I just want to leave a legacy in this program and put it in a better place,” Noland said Tuesday. “Set wins and losses aside, (I want to) set the culture in a better place and that’s really why I wanted to (come back and play).”
If you think this news regarding Noland and the Gamecocks essentially seals their fate for a lackluster season, then you need to hit their win total now. Any more significant ‘under’ money will likely drive the total down to (3.5), which would eliminate that all-important four-win push.