COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Despite the way the final drive ended, Gamecocks freshman quarterback Luke Doty was greeted by his teammates with pats on the back.
Doty’s last pass of the night landed in the hands of Missouri linebacker Devin Nicholson, which ultimately sealed up the victory for the Tigers. However, it was Doty’s play in the second half that gave the Gamecocks the spark they were missing without Shi Smith on the field.
The freshman out of Myrtle Beach High finished the contest going 14-of-23 passing for 130 yards and an interception. He also rushed 11 times for 59 yards to help the Gamecocks extend plays and keep drives alive. For an offense that only managed to muster 68 yards in the first half under starter Collin Hill, it was a welcome sight for fans and a much-needed boost for the team.
“I thought Luke played his tail off tonight regardless of the mistakes,” said Gamecocks offensive lineman Sadarius Hutcherson. “You can’t ask too much more than what he did today and I’m proud of him. I think we all played pretty good around him and we just need to keep building up from this.”
For almost any quarterback taking the reigns for the first time, the experience of coming in to help the team rally from a deficit could be nerve-racking. For Doty, the experience was exhilarating more than anything.
“It was a lot of fun getting to be out there with my guys in a great environment,” Doty said. “The message this week was just to have fun and I really think that’s what we did tonight. It felt good. It felt fun.”
At this point, it is unclear if Doty will be named the starting quarterback against Georgia in the team’s final home game. However, the freshman knows he’s still got a lot to prove.
“I really don’t think I’ve earned anything,” Doty said. “I think it goes back to just getting back to work next week and just working my tail off. That’s really what it comes down to. Everybody on the team’s been fighting, everybody believes in each other, and I know the guys around me believe in me. So, really, next week just comes down to everybody doing their job, me included. I have to do my job and make sure I can build trust in everyone around me and they’ll know that I’ll do mine.
Even in defeat, Doty will look to take the experience he’s gained and build on it moving forward.
“I definitely think I learned a lot,” Doty said. “It’s the first time that I’ve been out there for really a whole half and getting to play in a real game-like situation. I definitely think I learned a lot. The game is a lot faster than high school and it’s definitely something I’m going to have to keep working at and getting used to. But like I said, I had a lot of fun with my guys and we’re going to find a way to just get a win.”
Following Saturday’s game, Bobo said Doty “helped his cause” going into next week after shying away from naming a starter for the Georgia game.
If we’re being honest, he may have done more than that for himself and for the Gamecocks after a rough week.
This season, WIS Sports Reporter Emery Glover will provide reaction from games in an op-ed called “Fair Catch.” Be sure to catch the latest installment every week.