COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -Steve Spurrier just can't avoid quarterback controversies.
South Carolina's coach had intended since April for junior
to lead the Gamecocks. But after Beecher threw four interceptions in his first start and backup
led three fourth-quarter touchdown drives in South Carolina's 34-0 win over North Carolina State on Thursday night, Spurrier's
opened things up under center for next week's Southeastern Conference opener at Vanderbilt.
did come in and play very well. We'll have to wsatch the tape, analyze it to see what in the world happened to Tommy,'' Spurrier
Spurrier really had no choice, not after the performances of Beecher and Smelley.
Beecher, a fourth-year junior, completed 12 of 22 passes for 106 yards and those four awful picks. He came out late in the
third quarter, the Gamecocks citing a head injury.
Smelley, a sophomore who started six games last season, looked smooth and confident as he connected on fourth-quarter touchdowns
of 20 yards to
and 13 yards to
''I went out there and gave it everything I had,'' Smelley said. ''I'd like to play next week. It's the thing I've been working
for. We'll see how it goes.''
added rushing touchdown to grow Spurrier's opening-week victory streak to 16 in a row.
The Wolfpack, shutout 37-0 by Maryland to end last season, were held scoreless in consecutive games for the first time since
For Spurrier, it was also the first taste of victory since last October when a 21-15 win at North Carolina pushed the Gamecocks
to 6-1 and had him cocky about bigger things ahead.
Instead, South Carolina collapsed with five-straight defeats, the longest stretch of Spurrier's stellar career.
And for three quarters, this had to be torture for South Carolina's head ball coach, famed for his quick trigger on bad quarterbacks.
Beecher was given the job by Spurrier in April despite throwing three interceptions in South Carolina's closing spring scrimmage.
Ever since, Spurrier has stood solidly in Beecher's corner repeating the junior would have a chance to go the distance for
the Gamecocks this season.
Beecher looked shaky from the start. He was intercepted by
less than three minutes in, then took the first of his five sacks to end South Carolina's next series.
Beecher was picked off twice more before the half. Spurrier finally showed his trademark fire, tossing his visor, headset
and game notes after Beecher's third interception sailed over receiver
and into the hands of
Maybe he bit his tongue, or repeated a calming mantra, but Spurrier continued to send Beecher back out in spite of the mistakes.
Beecher did not come out to talk with reporters.
Beecher was two interceptions shy of the Gamecocks single-game mark, set by Glenn Morris in a 17-7 loss to Clemson in 1971.
Lucky for the Gamecocks' their defense was there to clean up the mess.
The group, headed by new coordinator Ellis Johnson, bottled up the Wolfpack throughout. North Carolina State had just 117
yards and eight first downs through three quarters.
The closest the Wolfpack came to scoring was
missing a 49-yard field goal attempt.
South Carolina linebacker
recovered a botched shotgun snap at the Wolfpack 9 right before halftime that led to
's 29-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
Then on the Wolfpack's second play after halftime,
stepped in front of a
pass for an interception at the North Carolina State 9. Four plays later, Davis lept into the end zone.
That was more than enough points to hold off the Wolfpack.
North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien said his staff would have to reevaluate what they'd done so far and make corrections.
''Basically, a tough start. The game was fine until the last series we fumbled the ball at the half, the first series of the
second half, we let it gete away from us,'' he said. ''From there, it seemed to go downhill.''
Afterward, Johnson got a gameball from Spurrier. ''I thought we played OK. It's not time to start breaking out the champagne
or anything,'' Johnson said.
Davis finished with 101 yards, the senior's fourth career game of at least 100.
The game's most frightening moment came when Wolfpack freshman
, starting his first game, was carted off the field. Wilson was motionless as he was strapped to backboard and rolled onto
a cart. He extended his thumbs upward to acknowledge the cheers of the players and fans at Williams-Brice Stadium.
North Carolina State officials announced Wilson had a grade-three concussion and was doing well after going to the hospital.
He was scheduled for more tests.