MarShawn Lloyd is South Carolina’s workhorse, but Christian Beal-Smith adds a different dynamic to the backfield.
Beal-Smith – a running back transferred from Wake Forest – played in four games for South Carolina, and the Gamecocks are 3-1 in those games. He has up to four rushing touchdowns, including the one he scored in the first quarter against Texas A&M on Saturday.
Beal-Smith said he tends to feel 100% as he recovers from a foot injury he suffered during fall camp. While he’s not getting the touches that Lloyd or Juju McDowell did, he thinks his running style benefits USC.
“Just being a power back really,” Beal-Smith said. “We had quick feedback. We have sneaky backs. Just being able to be part of the attack and contributing every week is just uplifting to me.
Beal-Smith received two direct snaps in the first quarter on Saturday, something the team added just a week ago.
The Gamecocks went 8-for-16 on third down, and a conversion occurred via a straight slam to Beal-Smith.
“We only ran it a couple of times in practice,” Beal-Smith said. “Just knowing that we were able to at least get the first try on one of these games was pretty good.”
The direct slam allowed Beal-Smith to use his power to run downhill and gain a few yards. He said he never performed that piece with the Demon Deacons.
“I think it’s fun,” Beal-Smith said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Beal-Smith had 1,871 yards and 14 touchdowns at Wake Forest. In the game against Charlotte, he ran for 55 yards, the most for him since last October.
Offensive lineman Eric Douglas noticed his gradual return to form, which he observed in practice.
He played with Beal-Smith in the Carolinas’ Shrine Bowl in 2016 when they were in high school, saying he was starting to look like that player again.
“He’s regaining his footing,” Douglas said in September. “He’s been in the game for a long time.”
The Gamecocks’ racing game has generally progressed. The team totaled just 211 yards in the first three games. In this four-game winning streak, the average is 194.3 per game.
Beal-Smith hasn’t had eye-popping yardage numbers so far, sitting 88 yards in 2022, but he’s managed to be an asset to USC’s running program.
Its size helps it as a run blocker for outdoor runs. He took a key block on a 16-yard Jalen Brooks reverse play against Texas A&M. Perimeter blocking has been a focus for the team, and it has helped the Gamecocks in that area.
Lead linebacker Brad Johnson watches Beal-Smith’s strength and power in practice. He said he gave it his all as both a ball carrier and a blocker.
“He’s just the kind of guy he is,” Johnson said. “Whatever his role, he will do it to the best of his abilities. Which I have huge respect for, because you’re not going to get the ball 1,000 times a game.