COLUMBIA -- It took Tommy Beecher one night to go from the penthouse to the cellar, although South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the offensive line played a big part in his quarterback's first-game struggles.
Beecher threw four interceptions and was sacked five times Thursday in the Gamecocks' 34-0 win against N.C. State. USC led 13-0 when Beecher left the game with a head injury near the end of the third quarter, before scoring touchdowns on three consecutive possessions behind backup quarterback Chris Smelley.
Spurrier said he would announce a starter for next week's game at Vanderbilt in the coming days, and indicated there also could be changes on a line that had four false-start penalties and numerous protection breakdowns.
The pressure often left Beecher with little time or space to pass the ball.
"He was a quarterback throwing out of the basement cellar window," Spurrier said Friday. "Hard to throw it out of that basement window."
Beecher completed 12 of 22 passes for 106 yards, but misfired on all of his deep throws. His longest completion was a dump-off pass that tailback Mike Davis turned into an 18-yard gain.
Smelley, who was 4-2 as a starter last year, was 5-for-5 passing for 92 yards and two touchdowns. The Gamecocks racked up 208 total yards in the fourth quarter with Smelley in the game after managing 161 yards the first three quarters.
"(Smelley) had better protection, and we ran the ball better when he was in there. He made some good decisions. Other than that, that was about it," Spurrier said. "Yeah, he played better than Tommy. There's no question."
Spurrier seemed more concerned about an offensive line performance he called "pitiful."
The Gamecocks gave up 31 sacks last year, second most in the SEC. But because each member of the front five had previous starting experience, the coaching staff hoped the line would be better.
"We opened the gates on (Beecher) about three times. We didn't even touch a guy. Running straight at him," Spurrier said. "It was pitiful. I'm embarrassed to say I tried to coach some of the things that happened out there. I really am. We'll make some changes if we have to."
Spurrier said there is a good possibility Georgia Military transfer Jarriel King will take over at left tackle for Hutch Eckerson, who had two of the false-start penalties.
"Our line still can't wait for the snap," Spurrier said. "That's embarrassing -- very embarrassing as the head coach and offensive coach I can't teach 'em to wait on a snap."
King, a 6-7, 285-pounder who was a defensive tackle in junior college, played most of the second half against the Wolfpack.
Beecher, who was a little woozy when he left the game, was feeling better by game's end and did not require any attention from the medical staff.
However, his confidence might be bruised.
"He got hit blindside about three times," Spurrier said. "A guy running right at you, of course, you're going to start running out of there."
Despite losing 16 yards on the sacks, Beecher finished with 25 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Spurrier pointed to those rushing numbers and the Beecher-led drive that resulted in a third-quarter field goal as positives for the right-hander to build on.
Of course, there is no assurance Beecher will get that chance this week.