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In search of QB help, South Carolina moves assistant to active roster

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Hurting for quarterback depth, South Carolina coach Shane Beamer looked to his own coaching staff to add to the team’s depth chart.

Yes, you read that correctly. Beamer, in his first year as head coach, told reporters Tuesday that Zeb Noland, one of his offensive graduate assistants, is now suiting up during preseason practice.

Noland isn’t without college football experience. He started his career at Iowa State and played in nine games, throwing for 1,255 yards and six touchdowns. He later transferred to North Dakota State, where he was the backup behind NFL first-round pick Trey Lance.

And when Lance decided not to play during NDSU’s spring season in order to go pro, Noland became the Bison’s starting quarterback. In seven games, Noland threw for 721 yards, five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Coincidentally, Beamer was in attendance for Noland’s best college performance. That came back in 2018, when he threw for 360 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-27 loss to Oklahoma. That was during Beamer’s first season as Oklahoma’s tight ends coach.

“I think he's a great resource for our young quarterbacks right now. He's played in a lot more football games as a starting quarterback than probably all of them combined at the college level,” Beamer said per GamecockCentral.com.

FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Zeb Noland (4) throws a pass during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and Iowa State Cyclones on September 29, 2018 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX.  (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Zeb Noland played at both Iowa State and North Dakota State before joining South Carolina's coaching staff. (Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Why is Zeb Noland moving from coach to player?

After his most recent season at North Dakota State, Noland decided to transition into coaching despite — like every other college football player — being granted another year of eligibility.

So what caused Noland to be put onto the Gamecocks’ roster? Well, starting quarterback Luke Doty injured his ankle during camp. It’s not clear when he will return to action, so South Carolina was awfully thin at the position behind Doty. With Doty out, Beamer said the team had just three active QBs in practice.

Before Noland entered the equation, freshman Colten Gauthier and senior Jason Brown, an FCS transfer, were the top two options while Doty is sidelined. The team also has redshirt sophomore Connor Jordan, a former walk-on, on the roster.

Beamer said Noland could see the field if he emerges as the team’s best option.

"I told Zeb, I told the quarterbacks, that he's going to come in here and he's going to compete like everyone else. And if he deserves the opportunity to play and can help us win football games, he will and if he can't, he won't,” Beamer said.

South Carolina opens its season at home against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4. The team’s next two games are on the road — at East Carolina on Sept. 11 and at Georgia on Sept. 18.

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