South Carolina enters 'unique' situation with graduate assistant to start at QB in opener

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    Zeb Noland entered the 2021 season trying to help South Carolina players prepare for the road ahead but for the first game he will have to suit up and start for the Gamecocks.

    Noland joined the team as a graduate student in late May and was activated midway through camp using his sixth and final year of eligibility to be a full-fledged member of the Gamecocks. The originally projected starter Luke Doty suffered a foot sprain and Noland was the only one who had taken a snap at quarterback on the FBS level previously.

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    “He just brings an older presence to not only the quarterback room, but the offense,” South Carolina offensive lineman Eric Douglas told The State on Wednesday. “Sometimes if things are going wrong, we’ve got Zeb back there screaming and it’s like ‘Oh, wow. We haven’t heard that before.’”

    Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer agreed Tuesday the situation was a bit bizarre.

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    “Is it a little bit unique? Yes. But remember he played in a game a few months ago,” he said.

    Noland was playing at North Dakota State on the FCS level before he moved onto South Carolina. He won five games as the starter in the 2020-21 season. He led the team to a marquee win over rival North Dakota.

    Before that, Noland was played for Iowa State. In nine FBS games, he recorded 1,255 passing yards and six touchdown passes.

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    He will lead the charge against Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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