Skai Moore

AP Photo/Chuck Burton

Back for Moore: South Carolina LB Skai Moore to return in 2017

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After missing the entire 2016 season due to a herniated disk in his neck, South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore will return to the field in 2017 to play for the Gamecocks. It was previously expected Moore would be back for the 2017 season, but The State has confirmed and reported that is still the plan ahead of spring football in Columbia.

Moore’s 2016 season was over well before the first kickoff of the season when Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp announce din late May updated his status. Moore had aggravated a previous herniated disk from the 2015 season during a weight room session in the spring. Muschamp said the injury was not career-threatening and said at the time was for Moore to be back in 2017. Despite being eligible to take his game to the next level, Moore deciding to return for one more season is probably the best bet all around as he will be given a chance to prove he is back and ready to contribute to any scouts who may be paying close attention.

Moore was South Carolina’s leading tackler from 2013 through 2015 and recorded 110 tackles as a junior in 2015, earning him All-SEC honors.

The 2017 season will be Moore’s final year of eligibility.

Gamecocks cash in on UNC’s red zone blunders for Belk Kickoff victory

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Few things seemed to be going well for South Carolina in the Belk Kickoff, but early in the fourth quarter Shon Carson ripped off a 48-yard run down the right sideline to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the young season, 17-13. The defense took care of things from there, with Skai Moore picking off a pass in the end zone as the Tar Heels went for a touchdown on fourth down. The interception essentially shut the door on the Tar Heels in Charlotte, as South Carolina’s offense was able to work the clock for the final three minutes and change.

UNC outgained South Carolina, 439-395, but it was the Gamecocks offense that ended up wearing down the Tar Heels. South Carolina held on to the football for roughly 35 minutes, which in part was because UNC attempted to go up-tempo at times. But it was the turnovers that did UNC in. North Carolina lost the football three times, and South Carolina never lost the football.

Faced with the chance to serve a knockout blow with the ball inside the red zone, South Carolina was stuffed short on third down. Rather than take what should have been an easy three points to build an seven-point lead, Spurrier opted to try to push forward for one yard to pick up a first down at the UNC 11-yard line.

Nope. UNC’s defense came up with the stop to give the Tar Heel offense a chance to seize the momentum. And seize it they did. Well, until they got inside the red zone that is. For the second time of the game, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams was picked off in the end zone. Both passes were read and picked off by Moore. Leaving points on the board was the big crutch for the Tar Heels in this game. Three times UNC was picked off in the red zone, and another red zone trip ended with just three points.

Neither team was particularly sharp, which is to be expected in the first game of the season. Neither was too disciplined either. UNC was called for six penalties, and South Carolina was flagged eight times.

North Carolina opens up its home schedule next weekend against North Carolina A&T, an FCS program. UNC actually plays two FCS opponents this season. Delaware visits Chapel Hill on September 26. Wake Forest was already booked.

South Carolina will jump right into SEC East play next week at home in Columbia. The Gamecocks welcome Kentucky to Williams-Brice Stadium on September 12. The Wildcats scored a 45-38 victory over Spurrier’s team last season in Lexington, so chalk this one up as a revenge game for the Gamecocks.

UNC takes 13-10 lead into halftime of Belk Kickoff

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North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).

It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.

How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.

South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.

South Carolina LB Kaiwan Lewis says he is transferring

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South Carolina linebacker Kaiwan Lewis will not be a part of the linebacker mix in Columbia in 2015. The junior announced on Twitter on Monday he is leaving the Gamecocks football program in search of a new place to play football for his senior season.

Lewis had been buried on the South Carolina depth chart at middle linebacker, sitting behind Skai Moore and Marcquis Roberts on South Carolina’s depth chart for the Independence Bowl match-up against Miami.

In his statement on social media, Lewis says he will graduate from South Carolina this spring. This will allow him to transfer to another FBS program and be eligible to play right away in the fall. The New Jersey native was a three-star prospect out of high school according to Rivals.com, and he chose South Carolina over offers from a good number of programs including Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan State, Tennessee and Rutgers.