COLUMBIA - It took six plays for Derek Watson to appear in South Carolina's 32-13 win over Boise State on Saturday.
It took far less time for him to create his usual impact. The junior tailback, who didn't start because of a strained hamstring, was inserted on the Gamecocks' seventh play from scrimmage.
He went off left guard on his first play for 13 yards, then he took a screen pass from quarterback Phil Petty for a 16-yard scoring reception that gave South Carolina a 7-0 lead.
It was Watson's first touchdown reception at South Carolina. His 6-yard scoring run in the third quarter gave him 14 touchdowns in his past 12 games.
"I feel good to get back in the swing of things," he said. "I'm not in game shape as of yet, but hopefully I can work something out in the next week or so to take on a team like Georgia."
BACKUP PROBLEMS: The Gamecocks have yet to find a quarterback to back up Petty.
Corey Jenkins, a junior-college transfer, struggled after entering the game on the Gamecocks' third series. He lost a fumble on a draw and Boise State gained possession at South Carolina's 19-yard line.
Running back Brock Forsey ended the drive with a 1-yard scoring run that pulled the Broncos within 13-7, and Petty returned on the next series.
With the game well in hand late, Jenkins was put back in - but only briefly. He was removed after two plays in favor of redshirt freshman Dondrial Pinkins. Jenkins returned for the last two plays of the game.
"I don't know who the number two quarterback is," Gamecocks coach Lou Holtz said. "That's a problem."
If Petty avoids injury and continues to play as he did Saturday, Holtz won't have to worry about a backup. The senior was perhaps the sharpest of his career in terms of decision-making and accuracy, finishing with 220 yards on an 18-of-25 clip.
He helped the Gamecocks go 9-of-14 on third-down conversions, including a 66-yard gem to Corey Alexander on third-and-7 in the fourth quarter that led to a Daniel Weaver field goal.
Petty also demonstrated improved arm strength on a few deep passes.
"He was that way all spring and he was that way all fall," Holtz said. "He really is sharp. He knows what he's doing. He knows the offense. We've just got to get some big plays from wide receivers."
ETC: Rashad Faison's 82-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown as the first half expired was the longest blocked field-goal return in school history. ... Holtz said he was far from impressed with his second team defense, which was inserted after the Gamecocks went up 32-7. ... Weaver's successful 28- and 29-yard field goal tries in the fourth quarter were the first two of his career. ... The Gamecocks scored on three of their four second-half possessions - one touchdown and two field goals. ... Saturday's turnout of 83,019 at Williams-Brice Stadium was the largest opening-game crowd in South Carolina history, surpassing the 82,605 that witnessed the Gamecocks' home opener against East Carolina in 1999. The crowd also was the sixth-largest in school history.
Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or email@example.com.
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