COLUMBIA, S.C. — North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner’s first throw Thursday was a modest one, a hurried screen pass for a loss of two yards, and a sign of respect for a ferocious, imposing South Carolina defense anchored by Jadeveon Clowney.
Already down by a touchdown before he even touched the football, Renner and the Tar Heels spent most of the first quarter feeling out the Gamecock defense and finding their bearings in an imposing SEC atmosphere sparked by the 80,000 fans in attendance.
Renner’s screen passes continued to net little yardage, tight end Jack Tabb dropped a pair of balls thrown his way, and the timid UNC offense mustered just 35 yards in the game’s first 15 minutes.
“(The short passes were) part of the game plan,” coach Larry Fedora said. “We wanted to give our offensive line a chance and get the ball out quick.”
Meanwhile, South Carolina — the No. 6 team in the country AP — excelled in all phases of the game, jumping out to a 17-0 lead before eventually winning 27-10.