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  1. Gamecocks star makes prestigious preseason All-American team August 15, 2018 It’s been a few years since South Carolina football boasted an All-American on its roster. One venerable publication predicts a current Gamecock will land on the first team at the end of this season. USC wide receiver Deebo Samuel was slotted as the all-purpose player on the Sports Illustrated preseason All-American team. It’s part of a litany of preseason hype for the redshirt senior who missed the final 10 games of last season with an injury. “Samuel had a kick return TD in each of the first two games of 2017, but he was lost for the year to a broken leg in the third,” The story said. “Somehow, he still ended up tied for the team lead in touchdowns. If the Gamecocks emerge as an SEC East dark horse, it’ll be because their offense runs through their best receiver.” He’s one of seven SEC players on the list, that includes Ole Miss’ A.J. Brown, LSU’s Devin White and Georgia’s DeAndre Baker. Clemson also had defensive linemen Christian Wilkins and Clelin Farrell. Through nearly three games last season, Samuel was a darling of the sport. He counted the kick return scores and two highlight-reel catches among his six touchdowns. His big plays had sparked South Carolina to a win at Missouri and proved vital in topping North Carolina State in the season opener. But on what he explained was a 12-yard curl route against Kentucky, a defender got on his back and fell awkwardly on his ankle. He was taped up and played out the drive, but at the end of the night, Muschamp declared his season over. He thought he’d have a chance to come back, and after it looked possible, a foot injury ensured the fourth-year junior, who sat with the seniors on photo day, would return to Columbia for another year. He said Wednesday he feels 100 percent fine and has been full go.
  2. How South Carolina’s newest crop of linemen impressed Will Muschamp August 14, 2018 In football, linemen are often the slowest to come along. They work in tight quarters, and the gaps in physical maturity are most apparent, even before considering the shock of a big guy facing players his size every rep. The South Carolina football team brought in a large batch of players up front in its most recent recruiting class. Most have been on campus since spring, a few came later. But he and his staff have had their chance to work hands-on with the whole group: ▪ On Dylan Wonnum: “Has got really good athleticism. Exactly what we felt in the recruiting process. Really moves well. I’m very pleased with where he is right now.” ▪ On Jordan Rhodes: “Was redshirted last year, but I think has made tremendous strides. Plays extremely hard. A guy that we think has got a really good future as well.” ▪ On Hank Manos: “Has done a really nice job at the center position.” ▪ On Jovaughn Gwyn: “A guy that has power and athleticism. He’s just got to learn more of what to do. That’s the issue. It’s not the athleticism, it’s not the power, it’s not the punch. Those are things you all see with what he’s able to bring to what we’re doing.” ▪ On Wyatt Campbell: “Been slowed a little bit with a knee. He’s missed some practice. We’ve got to get him back out there. It’s nothing long term. But we’re got to get him back on the field.” ▪ On Kingsley Enagbare: “Continues to play well.” ▪ On Rick Sandidge: “Has some some really nice things. Can really anchor and hold the point. Is an explosive guy and needs just to learn what we’re doing.” ▪ On Jabari Ellis: “I would say the same thing (as Sandidge). Been cleared about three days ago and has shown some things, showed some flashes to me of running and playing with some effort and some toughness, which was exciting.”
  3. Shameik Blackshear now working at multiple spots in the Gamecocks defense August 14, 2018 Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks teams are usually big on getting players working at multiple positions when it’s beneficial. The coaches plan to work that magic with a former top recruit still searching for a permanent role. Muschamp mentioned Monday that Shameik Blackshear, a former four-star defensive end, will be getting some work at a new spot. “Shameik’s a guy that we’re going to bump inside to get more speed on the field,” Muschamp said. It’s not a full-time change, but something the Gamecocks have done often in recent years. “Kind of like we do with Keir (Thomas), play some end, play some inside,” coach Will Muschamp said. “Want to get some more speed on the field, especially in pass-rush and one-minute and third-down situations.” USC also did that with Dante Sawyer last season, and had some plans to do it with Marquavius Lewis, now a defensive tackle with the Buffalo Bills. At 6-foot-5, 270, Blackshear is on the bigger side for an end and has measurements as Lewis was in college. Blackshear has six tackles in 46 snaps across eight games last year. He’s often been seen as a high-potential player, dating back to his days as a recruit before a rocky journey at South Carolina. Blackshear’s odyssey has been well-documented. He was once a four-star recruit, five-star as a junior before an injury. He played two games as a true freshman, but got a medical redshirt (there was also a tweet that caused a small stir). In December of that year, he was injured in a shooting. He missed spring but came back to play in nine games. If he can hold down a role as a passing-situation tackle, it provides a little more clarity at the position. Javon Kinlaw seems like the top guy, with Thomas appearing to mostly be the guy behind him. Rotation tackle Kobe Smith is the most experienced player behind them, but USC tends to want four, five or six options in the middle. And the staff is still sorting out players at those spots. “Jabari (Ellis) and Rick (Sandidge) just need a bunch of snaps,” Muschamp said. “For the game to continue to slow down. Both guys are giving us great effort. They’ve got to just continue to get snaps. JJ (Enagbare) continues to make progress. Kobe’s a guy that we continue to be pleased with and Shameik Blackshear is a guy that we’re going to look at as another guy inside that can do some things for us.”
  4. All-SEC sports scoreboard will be easier for us to see what is happing around the league at game time...
  5. A play every 7 seconds? That’s been a Gamecocks goal this camp August 09, 2018 South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley discusses the Gamecocks' goals for the season. A few years back, the Phoenix Suns changed the NBA with a philosophy of “seven seconds or less.” A football team can’t match that, but for South Carolina in the early going of August practice, the plan isn’t to allow for much more than that. “They say they want a play every seven seconds,” running back Rico Dowdle said. “That’s what we’ve really been focusing on is getting a play every 7 seconds. We’re doing tempo things every practice, getting our pace picked up.” Going up-tempo has been part of the promise from Will Muschamp’s staff since he arrived. He talked about bringing it from Auburn when he was first hired, and after changing offensive coordinators from Kurt Roper to Bryan McClendon, the dream of reaching that goal begins anew. News moves fast. So do we. The issue is South Carolina has spent the past two seasons as one of the slowest teams in the land. Based on a pace metric from SBNation’s Bill Connelly, USC ranked 106th and 127th the past two seasons. Those numbers about matched the plays run per game. USC showed the pluses and minuses of the scheme against Michigan in the bowl game last season. The Gamecocks had a slew of extremely fast three-and-outs in the first half, but also seemed to wear on a top-flight Wolverines front seven. The question remains, will the Gamecocks become efficient enough to truly make it work? After recent practices, defenders lamented not being able to substitute. And it’s something the offensive players seem to be enjoying, even if it means extra time after practice conditioning and working out the finer points. “It gets better each and every day,” Quarterback Jake Bentley said. “The more comfortable that we get, the faster we go. We were flying around. “Every day, the defense comes in, talking about how difficult it is to keep up with.”
  6. Some things aren’t bigger in Texas, this new Gamecock says August 07, 2018 Nick Harvey knew there would be different language to learn as he adjusted from playing defense at Texas A&M to playing at South Carolina. What he didn’t anticipate was that there would be so much more of it. “At first it was real difficult because we had less calls at A&M, but now I’m getting it, getting a good grasp of everything,” the Gamecocks senior defensive back said. “I feel like I can play well in this defense.” Harvey arrived in Columbia as a graduate transfer this offseason, meaning he is eligible to play immediately, and in the first week of camp he’s working with the starting secondary at both cornerback and nickel back. That’s along with adjusting to the bigger defensive playbook. “We play a little bit of everything. At A&M, we played just a couple calls,” Harvey said. “Here it’s way more calls. This defense puts the corners, nickels and safeties in the best position for them to succeed.” The Aggies finished ninth in the SEC in total defense last year (408.5 yards per game allowed). South Carolina finished seventh (367.1). The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Harvey had 109 tackles, one interceptions and 14 pass breakups in three years with the Aggies. He played there for longtime SEC defensive coordinator John Chavis, who he said shares personality traits with South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp. “I feel like they are almost the same type of person,” Harvey said. “If they have to get on you, they will. I feel like they both put a lot of passion into what they do and they love what they do. If you take their energy, you’ll be pretty good.” South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said it’s been nice adding a player with Harvey’s experience to the secondary. “We are excited about him,” Robinson said. “He is doing a really good job, can’t wait to see him go. He has to learn some of the different words. The hardest part for a guy like him is they called it one thing and it’s the exact same thing but we call it this.” THE STATE
  7. FeatheredCock

    GCF 2018 Prediction Thread 

    GCF 2018 Prediction Thread This is it I am sticking to it and this is my final prediction for 2018. No looking back ALL GAS NO BRAKES!! vs. Coastal Carolina: W - First half will be like a typical season opener. Lots of jitters, stupid mistakes, etc. But the Gamecocks will get it together for a comfortable win over a team that is new to the big boy league. vs. Georgia: L - Georgia obviously had a phenomenal year, but they are losing a lot. Having that said, they will still be very talented, and Fromm seems like the real deal. Smart will have them contending for the SEC every year. Historically, they don't play well in Columbia, but they still have lots of talent. L for now, but an upset isn't out of the question. vs. Marshall: W - Wanna know a fun fact? Gamecocks have an 0-1 all-time record against Marshall. Only meeting was a 24-21 loss in Columbia in 1998 Fat Brads last year at the helm. That won't happen this time around. I don't know anything about them, but this feels like a game where the Gamecocks win, but not for style points. at Vanderbilt: W - Vandy took a step back last year, and I think the Gamecocks will see more of the same from them. They haven't proven anything to think that they are a threat. Plus, Gamecocks have their number. at Kentucky: W - Two back to back SEC road games. That can be tough no matter the venues. It hurts to say it but Kentucky has been a thorn in the Gamecock side since 2014. Gamecocks just can't seem to beat them. However, the Gamecocks are long overdue for a win against these guys. Kentucky's program trajectory seems to be stuck in neutral, while the Gamecocks are going up. Muschamp will have these guys ready to play and to get the monkey off there back. vs. Missouri: W - I like their coach, and I think in a few years they will be a solid team. However, he is one year away. They had a decent 2017, but all of their wins were thanks to a weak schedule. Lock is an underrated QB and could give the Gamecocks trouble, but I think Gamecocks pull this one out. vs. Texas A&M: L* - They seem to have our number no matter what happens. Last year was the Gamecocks best chance, but then Kurt Roper happened. This could easily be a win with their coaching change, but I won't predict a W until the Gamecocks can prove that they can beat the Aggies. vs. Tennessee: W - Once again, UT is in rebuilding mode. Pruitt could be their guy, but he still has a ways to go. Coming off a bye, I think the Gamecocks are well rested to pull of the W against an average Tennessee team. Muschamp still will not have lost to a Tennessee team... at Ole Miss: W - The ultimate trap game. However, Ole Miss is a mess right now on and off the field. Muschamp is not a coach who will overlook anyone. Potential for a sloppy game, but a win. at Florida: W* - I have a W here, but it could easily be an L. Gainesville is always tough, but they are going through a coaching change. A hard fought game like it always is with the Gators. A win here would be huge for Muschamp. I really can see this going either way... vs. Chattanooga: W - Another year, another FCS team before Clemson. Game will be over by the middle of the 3rd quarter. at Clemson: L - I would LOVE to put this as a W and have an upset, but just don't see it happening right now. They were exposed vs Alabama, but they still have talent. Given that it's in Clemson doesn't help. Some fans will quickly point out a potential 0-3 record vs Clemson, but Muschamp can't help that they have been a Top 5 team ever since he got here. *I think the Gamecocks beat Florida OR Texas A&M, but not both.* I'll go with 9-3 (6-2 SEC) t\To me that would probably mean a Citrus or Peach Bowl birth. Muschamp continues to build this program faster than expected.
  8. It’s early, but Jake Bentley has rave reviews of Deebo and USC’s new offense August 06, 2018 After South Carolina’s fourth practice of the fall, junior quarterback Jake Bentley is even more excited about the Gamecocks’ new offense. “It gets better each and every day,” Bentley said Monday after South Carolina’s second practice in shoulder pads. “The more comfortable we get with it, the faster we go. We were flying today. Every day the defense comes in talking about how hard it is to go against.” First-year offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has promised the Gamecocks will run a faster-paced offense this year after South Carolina finished 110th in the nation in plays last year under fired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. “It’s going to be a brand new offense that (fans) should be excited about,” Bentley said. “There are a lot of guys who can make a lot of plays for us. There are a lot of guys who have played a lot of football.” One of those guys has looked especially good to Bentley. That’s senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who is returning this season after he missed 10 games last year due to a broken leg. Samuel hasn’t shown any rust in his return to live action, Bentley said. “Not at all,” Bentley said. “He’s hit the ground running, and he’s really looked explosive. There is no timidness with him at all.” Samuel had six touchdowns in three games last year. THE STATE
  9. Gamecock defense looking for improvements in the 2018 season August 06, 2018 The Gamecocks ranked 44th nationally last season, giving up over 367 yards per game last year but were in the top 25 in points allowed per game with 20.7. That means they gave up their fair share of yards but didn’t allow points off other team’s red zone trips, forcing field goals instead of allowing touchdowns. Of the 48 times the defense was backed up inside their own 20-yard line, they only allowed a touchdown 52 percent of the time. T. Robinson and a Gamecock defense return six starters and a wealth of players that played significant snaps last season is getting off the field earlier. "Third down is a key situation,” Robinson said. “I’ve never seen anything bad happen to the defense sitting on the sidelines. The only time something bad has happened to us is when we’re on the field. So we have to get off the field on third down.” Last season Gamecock opponents converted 39.8 percent of third downs last season, which ranks ninth in the SEC and 76th nationally. So it’ll be up to the Gamecocks to tighten up on third down, but one of the things they already do could help with that. South Carolina’s one of the nation’s best teams at forcing turnovers, something that could keep the defense out of having to play backed up in its own end. Last year South Carolina ranked first in the SEC—ninth in the country—in takeaways and 13th national (second in the SEC behind Alabama) in turnover margin. Getting the ball off opponents could help the Gamecocks ending drives in the middle of the field and not let opponents get deep into their territory. The Gamecocks do return six starters on defense, including four in the front seven. They also have 15 other lettermen returning on that side of the ball that contributed last season. With a lot of experience returning, it could mean moving forward more for the South Carolina’s defense.
  10. The origin of the #SpursUp! shout-out? It was her idea August 05, 2018 South Carolina fans have been trained to smile, and sometimes get rowdy, when they see head coach Will Muschamp post “#SpursUp!” on Twitter. College football coaches are not allowed to discuss high school prospects until they have signed with their school, but it’s become commonplace for coaches to alert their fan base to a verbal commitment with some sort of specific exhortation. For the Gamecocks, it’s “#SpursUp!” which was the idea of Muschamp’s wife Carol, the coach said. “We were in the Big 12 and everybody’s got a hand signal and a saying. She said, ‘We need one here,’ ” Muschamp said. “I said, ‘What do you want?’ She said, ‘Spurs Up! sounds good to me,’ I said, ‘That sounds great to me.’ I wanted to have a way to let our fan base know that a young man wanted to be at South Carolina.” Muschamp’s time in the Big 12 was spent as the defensive coordinator at Texas. “It was her idea and we’ve run with it,” Muschamp said. “Gamecock fans are excited whenever they see that about an addition to our family.” South Carolina has 16 verbal commitments for the Class of 2019. The Gamecocks group currently is ranked No. 17 in the nation by 247Sports. The most recent #SpursUp! came with Class of 2020 quarterback Luke Doty of Myrtle Beach committed to the Gamecocks on July 31. Here’s what that looked liked on Twitter and a few of the fan reactions that followed.
  11. Bryson Allen-Williams and DJ Wonnum on the field together August 04, 2018 This duo may be seeing a lot of time together on the field in what Muschamp called the team’s “best personnel grouping,” with Bryson Allen-Williams and DJ Wonnum playing opposite each other up front. “We’ll be able to have two hard edges with two big guys, physical, violent guys on the edges,” Muschamp said. “I think it’s going to be good for us that we can set better edges on the perimeter throw game as far as the bubbles and quick screens and such.” In the Gamecocks’ base defensive package, Wonnum is slotted in at the starting BUCK spot, South Carolina’s do-it-all position, with Allen-Williams the leading candidate to start at the SAM linebacker spot. That would put them playing likely on opposite sides of the field with them both having the ability to rush the passer or drop back in coverage. Wonnum’s been playing BUCK since he stepped on campus and bounced around playing some end as well. Allen-Williams is probably the most versatile player in the Gamecock front seven, having the ability to play linebacker, on the line or at the BUCK spot as well. The two have been playing together for the last two seasons, although last year was cut short after Allen-Williams had shoulder surgery that kept him out of the last 10 games. He’s been able to teach younger players like Wonnum about the position, and now he’ll be able to suit up and play with them again soon. “Just handling being in the moment and not worrying about anything outside of football,” Wonnum said about what Allen-Williams has taught him. For Wonnum, this could be a breakout year for him in his third season at South Carolina. After compiling almost 60 tackles and 13 tackles for loss. This has been a big offseason for him, he’s said. “D.J. Wonnum is really challenging to improve his strength,” Muschamp said.
  12. An open letter to South Carolina football fans: 2018 is going to be intriguing August 02, 2018 Gamecock fans, This is the year you’ve been waiting for since the fall from the high of three consecutive 11-2 seasons. This is the season you hoped the team would bounce back to following Steve Spurrier’s retirement, however you still think about the timing of that announcement. But this is also the year that expectations are changing. The page has been turned for the better in that fans and media expect more out of a team that won 9 games, including the bowl game, and this is widely viewed as the best South Carolina team in five years. Entering his third season, coach Will Muschamp has already matched the best two starts in program history. Muschamp is 15-8 at South Carolina; only Joe Morrison (15-8) and Spurrier (15-10) have done as well. Remember the joy you felt on New Year’s Day following the win over Michigan? The feeling of going from trailing 19-3, to celebrating amongst fans as Muschamp, fresh off of getting doused with Gatorade, exchanged hugs and hand shakes with anyone in his path. That’s reignited this preseason as camp opens and the “all gas, no brakes” battle cry looks to become reality. But if you’re looking for someone to get out ahead of his skis, don’t look at Muschamp. Of course, this is the same coach who last season, as results passed expectations, deflected any real reaction until the end of the season to evaluate the entire product. He did it again, from SEC Media Days leading into preseason camp. “Our focus right now is to finish summer and have a great training camp,” he said. “You can have all of the goals you want and all the expectations you want, but none of that matters unless you understand what it takes to achieve those. We’re excited about having the opportunity to report on August 2nd and start practice on August 3rd.” Messaging could be one of the valuable lessons Muschamp learned between his tenure at Florida, and now in Columbia. He admitted in Atlanta that he learned he could only control things within reach, and, “there’s certain things you can’t control and you need to move on.” “At the end of the day, I’m a good defensive football coach. I’m a good special teams coach, and I can recruit,” he said. “I think those are things you got to stay in your lane as far as those things are concerned and move forward and that’s what we’ve done.” Perhaps the silver lining to one of the biggest questions on the team, the defensive secondary, is that’s a unit where Muschamp himself played, and he’s most familiar coaching. It would also help the secondary if the pass rush, a noted priority for Muschamp, steps up and puts more pressure on quarterbacks, especially without blitzing. What Muschamp can control is using Deebo Samuel all over the field, and unleashing him at least to the level the star wide receiver and special teams ace opened last season before he was injured. But Samuel, Rico Dowdle and the rest of the skill players are hardly a worry. In fact, they might be the biggest reason to be excited about this season. The underlying question for the season might be if the offensive line, while replacing a pair of veterans, can be rebuilt and improved at the same time. The concern is scoring, especially in SEC games, where the Gamecocks last season put up 17 points or fewer in four games, which resulted in a 1-3 record against Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Georgia. Muschamp noted in Atlanta that the top six offensive linemen have about 80 starts between them, but there is a significant dropoff in experience at the bottom of the depth chart. One of the more intriguing aspects of this season will be Jake Bentley’s growth at quarterback under a new offensive coordinator in Bryan McClendon and quarterbacks coach in Dan Werner. The Gamecocks have said they will tweak the offense to play at a faster pace, but one wonders if Bentley’s noted turnovers, and poor accuracy at times, will change for the better in this new system. “We want to be able to dictate the tempo of the game more, play faster,” Muschamp said in Atlanta. “I think Jake plays better when he plays faster, and that’s certainly — you’ll see a noticeable change in our offense as far as the tempo is concerned.” There is room to grow. The Gamecocks, in almost every major offensive category last season, were at or near the bottom in the SEC. Of course, having Samuel and Dowdle for the entire season would offer an obvious bump. Make no mistake, there is optimism on the horizon, which is unchartered territory for a program that hardly has a key game to look forward to on a regular basis, especially outside of Clemson. But here they sit, with loads of attention on Week 2 playing host to Georgia in the coveted 3:30 p.m. CBS time slot, that the Gamecocks have the opportunity to propel the program to Atlanta in December. Along with the Georgia game, there are others circled on the schedule, including the Kentucky series, which has gone the wrong way for the Gamecocks the past four seasons. That motivation will be paired with the Texas A&M game, another 4-game losing streak for the Gamecocks, and a memory last season of yielding seven sacks that exposed the offense line’s deficiencies. There are plenty of aspects of this team to chew on, and keep us occupied until the Sept. 1 kickoff against Coastal Carolina. Muschamp wasn’t everyone’s first choice when he was hired, and there are lingering questions about the offense, and concerns about the defense. Sure, the program is a step behind Clemson and Georgia at the moment, but the future trajectory is positive, and that’s a lot more than a lot of August preseasons in program history can say.
  13. South Carolina’s JUCO addition to the defensive line: I’m fast for my size August 02, 2018 The South Carolina football team’s defense is going for more speed up front. That means a smaller defensive end and former ends spending more time at tackle. It also presented an interesting situation for someone looking at the addition of Jabari Ellis, a 280-pound defensive tackle joining the team from the junior college ranks. For Ellis, this emphasis on speed won’t be an issue. “I really don’t like saying I play like this type of player or that type of player,” Ellis said. “I’m fast for my size. “I feel like I can stop the run and I can also pass rush.” The Lake Marion High School product did a good bit of that last season, compiling 22 tackles, nine for loss and four sacks on an 8-2 Georgia Military College team. It’s the second consecutive season USC added a defensive tackle from the junior college ranks. Last fall, Javon Kinlaw grew into a force for the Gamecocks defense as he lost 40 pounds from his peak weight. He, too, had some reputation as a run plugger, but protested he could disrupt (and he did). Ellis didn’t think there would be much reshaping of his body. While still in junior college, he followed a workout booklet USC’s staff gave him, but said he wouldn’t dig too much into the diet aspect. “I was this size since high school,” Ellis said. “This is my comfortable playing weight. If I do add weight, I don’t think it would be too much. I don’t see myself getting much past 300. “As long as I keep my speed, move how I move. It’s cool.” Playing at GMC allowed Ellis to get a jump on things, as the 160-mile drive wasn’t too far that he couldn’t drop in often in the spring. That meant he got to watch practices, pick up plays and elements of the way Gamecocks players do things (and the way coaches want things). That includes watching defensive line coach Lance Thompson at work. “I realized their D-tackles are very versatile,” Ellis siad. “When I had a chance to work out with coach Thompson, everything we did on one side, we did on the other side, so it wasn’t like you’re set to one position on one side. You work everything.” He quickly realized Thompson possessed a great deal of expertise, and aimed to act like a sponge, soaking up all he could. Ellis pointed out he was close with a pair of veteran Gamecocks even before arriving on campus. He’s played in the Shrine Bowl with Kinlaw, and both had to take the junior college road. USC starting left tackle Dennis Daley was Ellis’ teammate for a year in Milledgeville, Ga. He said when he visited in the spring, it was often just to spend time with fellow players. Ellis will be stepping into a position where the Gamecocks have a lot of options as they aim to reload, but few are proven. Kinlaw is an anchor, and Kobe Smith was the No. 4 tackle behind the departed Taylor Stallworth and Ulric Jones. Big end Keir Thomas will be primarily a tackle at 276 pounds, according to the coaches. But after that, there are talented options. Rick Sandidge, a 285-pound four-star freshman, is now on campus. Freshman ends-turned tackles Kingsley Enagbare (285 pounds) and Tyreek Johnson (270) have been with the team since January, and M.J. Webb, a 288-pound former four-star end that moved inside, is coming off a redshirt season. “They’re thin at the D-tackle position right now,” Ellis said. “So they want me to come in and really just take care of my business. They didn’t tell me anything about starting or nothing like that. It’s all up to me and what I do.” Before he reached campus, he wasn’t doing it alone. Junior college players often leave school after their final seasons, finishing up a last class or two remotely, working out on their own. Ellis stayed at GMC, continuing to work out with his former team. USC coach Will Muschamp said Ellis was one of the first players he saw after he was hired. He helped direct Georgia Military his way, hoping he’d end up back in South Carolina, as he now has. “It’s a big opportunity,” Ellis said. “I mean, I really felt like it was God’s plan. “Sky’s the limit for me THE STATE
  14. Five things to watch as South Carolina begins 2018 football season August 02, 2018 South Carolina’s 2018 football season begins Thursday as the Gamecocks report for fall camp. The team will take the practice field for the first time Friday morning, and here are five things we’ll be watching especially close this fall. Offensive execution South Carolina found a rhythm at times with its new, faster offense against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. That’s not the same as ingraining the system into every player in the rotation, and that’s what spring practice and this fall were about. Junior quarterback Jake Bentley acknowledged that the team’s player-run practices this summer showed the offense isn’t second nature yet. “It has been different,” Bentley said. “There have been some bumps in the road as we put it in, I think it’s going to be real big for us. The guys love it.” Bentley especially does, he said. “I think it’s been one of the best things to happen to me in my college career,” he said. The next month is when the Gamecocks must get the remaining kinks out of their execution. Running back rotation Ty’Son Williams started the Outback Bowl. Rico Dowdle was the leading rusher in the Outback Bowl. A.J. Turner started more games than either of them in the regular season and was the team’s leading rusher in 2017 with 531 yards. Will a starting running back ever step forward? South Carolina coaches will insist they are fine going with the hot-hand rotation (playing whoever practices the best and is performing best in a particular game), but that system hasn’t worked the last two seasons. Only twice last year did the Gamecocks leading rusher have more than 100 yards, and both times it was Turner. South Carolina,which finished 12th in the SEC in rushing a year ago, needs a clear start to emerge this fall. Defensive line depth Head coach Will Muschamp feels pretty good about starting defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw, Keir Thomas, Aaron Sterling and D.J. Wonnum, but he also knows he needs at least eight and more like 10 defensive linemen in a rotation to play the kind of defense he wants to play this year. Tackle Kobe Smith feels like a solid fifth defensive linemen, but the rest of the rotation is mostly question marks. How much Buck will Bryson Allen-Williams play? Is Daniel Fennell ready to take the next step?Will Shameik Blackshear ever make an impact? How good can freshmen like J.J. Enagbare, Jabari Ellis, Tyreek Johnson and Rick Sandidge be? Safety shuffle Jamyest Williams and Tavyn Jackson started their career being lauded for their potential at cornerback. They’ll both start this fall working at safety. That’s an indication of the Gamecocks lack of depth at the position. Steven Montac is the only proven player at the position. Javon Charleston, who exited spring listed as a starter, is suspended due to an offseason arrest. Jaylin Dickerson,who has shown lots of promise on the practice field, has yet to play due to a shoulder injury. Rice graduate transfer J.T. Ibe and freshman and converted high school quarterback R.J. Roderick also are intriguing options at that position. Health No one wants to think about it, much less talk about it, but the Gamecocks can’t afford many preseason injuries. Everyone will be watching how well senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel is moving in his return from a broken leg. Allen-Williams(shoulder), Dickerson (shoulder) and Williams (shoulder) also will be getting into full contact work for the first time in a while. In terms of players South Carolina can least afford to lose (outside of quarterback Jake Bentley, who has very little chance of being injured in the practice), middle linebacker T.J. Brunson is at the top of the list. Brunson is essentially indispensable. THE STATE
  15. South Carolina 2018 football season game-by-game predictions July 20, 2018 Now that SEC Media Day's are over it's time for some fun with 2018 predictions. Here is my first look and it will change when I take off my Garnet classes before the start of the season. My early thoughts looking through Garnet classes on 2018 South Carolina ’s football season. Is this the year the Gamecocks win 12? A perfect season heading into the SEC Championship. Could be!! And this is how it could play out. Reminder my predictions are through Garnet classes and please do not take this to the bank. Coastal Carolina, Sept. 1 The Chanticleers are coming off a 3-9 season, and their only other trip to Williams-Brice Stadium ended in a 70-10 loss in 2013. This one won’t be a 60-point win (probably), but it’s a big win for a Gamecocks team that will be looking to prove its offense is improved. Moving on. My pick Pick: South Carolina 56, Coastal Carolina 17 Georgia, Sept. 8 The Bulldogs are back on the early part of the schedule, and that’s good news for South Carolina. Georgia still will be working to figure out how to replace a lot of very important defenders, plus running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. The less-good news for the Gamecocks is the Bulldogs have recruited well enough to replace their losses. But at this stage an early season game could give the Gamecocks a win this time around. My pick Pick: South Carolina 21, Georgia 20 Marshall, Sept. 15 This won’t be a walkover win, especially coming off what will be a physical game against the Bulldogs. The Thundering Herd finished 8-5 a year ago and beat a decent Colorado State game in a bowl game. The good news for South Carolina is junior Herd quarterback Chase Litton, who ranked fifth in school history in passing, decided to skip his senior season, so Marshall will be breaking in a new quarterback. My pick Pick: South Carolina 35, Marshall 13 At Vanderbilt, Sept. 22 Breaking news: Ralph Webb is not a Commodore anymore. It seems like Webb has been running the ball for Vanderbilt forever, and SEC defensive coordinators will be glad to see him gone. Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who had 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year, is back, but Vanderbilt still is Vanderbilt. My pick Pick: South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 17 At Kentucky, Sept. 29 The optimism surrounding the Wildcats’ football team seems a long time ago, but it was only this time last year that people thought Kentucky was going to turn the corner. It hasn’t happened yet. Quarterback Stephen Johnson graduated, and one-time USC target and UK backup Drew Barker decided to transfer. Running back Benny Snell will lead the Kentucky offense, and the Gamecocks will beat the Wildcats for the first time since 2013. My pick Pick: South Carolina 28, Kentucky 27 Missouri, Oct. 6 A lot was made of Missouri’s six-game winning streak to end the regular season, but it’s tough to forget how bad the Tigers looked when South Carolina beat them 31-13 early in the season last year. Quarterback Drew Lock is back, and former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley will be coordinating the offense. It will be Dooley’s first job running an offense, so it’s hard to know what kind of system he’ll run. By this point in the season, the Gamecocks will have it figured out, though. My pick Pick: South Carolina 30, Missouri 24 Texas A&M, Oct. 13 The Aggies are the biggest mystery on South Carolina’s 2018 schedule. Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin and broke the bank to lure Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. Fisher inherits plenty of talent, which has never been the Aggies issue. If Texas A&M can survive an early season schedule that includes Clemson and Alabama with its confidence intact, the Aggies will be trouble. My pick Pick: South Carolina 27, Texas A&M 24 Tennessee, Oct. 27 Whereas Fisher doesn’t have a lot of rebuilding to do with the Texas A&M program, first-year Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt has a lot of work in front of him. It’s hard to believe Pruitt will get the Volunteers back to being a legitimate threat in the SEC East in one year. My pick Pick: South Carolina 34, Tennessee 20 At Ole Miss, Nov. 3 This will be South Carolina’s first trip to Oxford, Miss., since 2008, and it’s sure to be a hot ticket for Gamecocks fans. It’s also pretty sure to be a win for South Carolina. The Rebels have an open date before this game, but that’s probably not enough to lift a team that will be replacing quarterback Shea Patterson and won’t be eligible for a bowl game again because of NCAA sanctions. My pick Pick: South Carolina 34, Ole Miss 17 At Florida, Nov. 10 The Swamp still is a tough place for South Carolina to play. The Gamecocks have won there twice, and even though those victories have come in their last four trips to Gainesville, Fla., (2014 and 2010), this will be a tough trip. Florida will have had plenty of time to get comfortable with first-year head coach Dan Mullen’s spread offense. My pick Pick: South Carolina 27 Florida 17, Chattanooga, Nov. 17 A 3-8 team a year ago, the Mocs will provide a good breather before the Clemson game. My pick Pick: South Carolina 42, Chattanooga 14 At Clemson, Nov. 24 The Tigers will be going for their fifth consecutive win in this series, and they probably will be favorites to do it. Clemson’s daunting defensive line will be back intact after its three juniors surprised everyone by deciding to return. The big question is who will be playing quarterback for the Tigers at this point. The bet here is on freshman Trevor Lawrence, who’s really good. The Gamecocks also will return a solid defense as well and a potant offense to go along with their defense. The streak stops here. My pick Pick: South Carolina 35, Clemson 27,
  16. This'll be pretty much a commitment watch thread Every time there is a SpursUp Gamecocks get a commit #spursup hashtag on Twitter https://twitter.com/hashtag/spursup
  17. The problem with going fast for South Carolina’s offensive line July 27, 2018 South Carolina and new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon work on speeding up the Gamecocks offense, which means offensive line coach Eric Wolford will be watching for something very specific this season. “The thing I have to pay attention to, when you go fast, obviously there’s more fatigue that starts to set in and when fatigue starts to set in, you start to play higher,” Wolford said. “I’ve got to continue to do a good job of when we’re going fast, making sure we’re playing with pad level because if we can go fast and play with pad level, we will have a much better chance of having success on the line of scrimmage.” The Gamecocks ran 802 offensive plays last year (61.7 per game), the 10th-fewest in the SEC, but that number figures to go way up this year under McClendon. “As players get tired, I see both lines of scrimmage starting to get higher,” Wolford said. “We have to find a way when it’s play 60, play 70, play 80 that we can play with pad level and that will give us the opportunity to win games in the fourth quarter.” THE STATE
  18. University of South Carolina 2018 Preseason Football Information · Colonial Life Fan Appreciation Day is set for Saturday, August 11, at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier Indoor Practice Facility. The event will run from 2-3:30 pm. This is an opportunity for our fans to engage with the student-athletes and not considered a “media opportunity” to interview the student-athletes or coaches. · No practices will be open to the public. · Coach Muschamp will hold his weekly press conference on Tuesdays during the season in the media room at Williams-Brice Stadium, located underneath the west stands, beginning at 12:30 pm. The first weekly press conference will be held on Tuesday, August 28. There will be no press conference during the off week (Tuesday, October 16). · Coach Muschamp will conduct a weekly teleconference at 7 pm every Sunday during the season, with the first one scheduled for September 2. · The SEC hosts a weekly press teleconference each Wednesday from August 29 to November 21. Coach Muschamp will be on the call at 12:10 pm ET each week. To participate, contact the SEC Media Relations office at 205-458-3010 for the passcode. · Coach Muschamp will take part in “Carolina Calls” with Todd Ellis on Thursdays during the season from Wild Wing Café in the Vista. The radio call-in show runs from 7-8 pm. The first show is scheduled for August 23. The second show, slated for August 30, will be the kickoff party with cheerleaders, Cocky and the band. · The Will Muschamp Television Show airs at 11:30 a.m. on Sundays on Fox Sports Southeast, WACH-FOX in Columbia, WPDE in Florence and WCIV in Charleston. PRESEASON PRACTICE SCHEDULE AND MEDIA AVAILABILITY (UPDATED 08/14/2018) NOTE: All practices are closed unless otherwise noted. Dates/times/availability subject to change. Tuesday, August 14 – No Practice – Scheduled Day Off (No media availability) Wednesday, August 15 – Practice #11 – 9 am (Open to media for stretch and first three periods only; Pat Washington, Bobby Bentley and requested offensive players available in the media room after practice) Thursday, August 16 – Practice #12 – 9 am (Open to media for stretch and first three periods only; Mike Peterson, Kyle Krantz and requested defensive players available in the media room after practice) Friday, August 17 – Practice #13 – 9 am (No media availability); Photo Day – 5-6 pm, Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday, August 18 – Practice #14 – Noon - Scrimmage (Will Muschamp available at the stadium after practice) Sunday, August 19 – No Practice – Scheduled Day Off (No media availability) Monday, August 20 – Practice #15 – 2:20 pm (No media availability) Tuesday, August 21 – Practice #16 – 2:20 pm (No media availability) Wednesday, August 22 – No Practice – Scheduled Day Off (No media availability) Thursday, August 23 – No Practice – Fall Classes Begin (No media availability); Coach Muschamp at Carolina Calls from Wild Wings Café, 7-8 pm Friday, August 24 – Practice #17 – 9 am (No media availability) Saturday, August 25 – Practice #18 – Noon (No media availability) Sunday, August 26 – Practice #19 – 3:55 pm (No media availability) Monday, August 27 – No Practice – Scheduled Day Off (No media availability) Tuesday, August 28 – Practice #20 – 9 am; (Requested players available in the media room after practice; Coach Muschamp weekly press conference, 12:30 pm in the media room) Wednesday, August 29 – Practice #21 – 9 am (No media availability); Coach Muschamp on SEC teleconference, 12:10 pm Thursday, August 30 – Practice #22 – 9 am (No media availability); Coach Muschamp at Carolina Calls from Wild Wings Café, 7-8 pm Friday, August 31 – Practice #23 – 4 pm (No media availability) Saturday, September 1 – South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina, Williams-Brice Stadium, Noon, SEC Network Sunday, September 2 – Practice - 5:30 pm (No media availability); Coach Muschamp teleconference, 7 pm; TV Show, 11:30 am
  19. He’s USC’s best at getting to the QB. Something will be different this year July 26, 2018 The station South Carolina pass rusher D.J. Wonnum has reached required it. But he was not a fan. “I don’t do planes,” Wonnum told a news conference full of reporters and TV cameras at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. To do the team’s day trip to the event, he had to fly. He had teammates taking videos of him looking nervous as the plane took off. It speaks to the level he’s reached that he was asked to come on the trip at all. USC only brought one defensive player to the annual event. Last year, the team brought none. So it says something about where the coaches see him in the hierarchy of the team, or at least how they want the oft-soft spoken junior to be a public-facing voice for USC. “I was shocked,” Wonnum said of getting picked. His coach, Will Muschamp, shed a little light on what he means for USC. “D.J. is as good a young man as you’ll meet,” Muschamp said. “Very consistent in everything he does with his body. Off the field, football, in the meeting room, in the weight room, you know exactly what you’re going to get every single day from D.J. Wonnum.” That’s one of those things coaches hold dear. In a job with a sometimes absurdly wide range of responsibilities, especially with wrangling 18- to 23-year-olds, a player who doesn’t have to be worried about stands out. Wonnum was one who stood out early when he arrived on campus. After his first practice, Muschamp mentioned him. After a few games in the regular season, he was the No. 2 at the Buck position and a rotation regular. Last season, he grew into a steady, reliable starter. This year, he might be able to make another jump to become an elite pass rusher. But his approach never changed. A year after coming to camp as a presumptive starter, he’s now considered a leader, and he attacks it the same way. “I probably never imagined all the things that I’m doing, going to do,” Wonnum said. “Coming into camp, my main focus was just to work hard. Do things on your own was probably one of my biggest things.” Last fall, he made 57 tackles, fourth on the team. He had 13 tackles for loss, six sacks, both team highs. Both he and Muschamp mentioned his biggest strides coming in the weight room. He came to USC as an undersized and probably underrated three-star prospect out of Stone Mountain, Ga. He’s up 18 pounds (240 to 258) and stronger at the point of attack against the run. And he boasts another skill Muschamp puts a premium on. “The thing about D.J. is you tell him it once and it’s done,” Muschamp said. “You don’t have to repeat it over and over again. It’s not Etch A Sketch with this guy.” This year, he’ll be asked to be a little more, as a voice and a leader. USC lost a couple key faces from the defense, including Skai Moore, Chris Lammons, Dante Sawyer and Taylor Stallworth. So now, the big stage is his. “You’ve got to give your best every day so those guys will follow in your footsteps,” Wonnum said. “So I’d probably say that’s the biggest, hardest thing. Just having those guys, looking up to you, it’s pretty fun. THE STATE
  20. Position breakdown: Wide receivers July 26, 2018 The receiving corps is poised for a big season We’re going to break down another position group today, and we are doing the receiving corps. For me and many other college football junkies, we know this should be the strength of the team. New offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has inherited a very talented group of guys. With third-year starter Jake Bentley under center again and the new up-tempo offense McClendon is wanting to run, there is reason for optimism. The loss of first-round tight end Hayden Hurst means that someone new is going to have to step in the role of Mr. Dependable. Jacob August is the starter going into fall camp with Kyle Markway, K.C. Crosby, Evan Hinson, and Kiel Pollard battling behind him. Right now it has a feel of tight end by committee. Now, I don’t think anyone but Hayden Hurst can bring what he did to the team as far as leadership and talent. What coach Will Muschamp will want is just production from these guys. With the experience that August and Crosby have, that shouldn’t be a problem. But lets face it, tight ends aren’t why opposing defensive coordinators are going to have trouble sleeping before they play the Garnet and Black. Bryan Edwards is a nightmare. The 6-foot-3 junior led the team in receiving yards with 793 yards while catching 5 touchdowns last season. He has progressed every year under Muschamp and he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. With the ability to out-jump most defenders and hands as soft as an eagle wing, he could have a year that lands him All-SEC. (My bold prediction is that he will be at least second-team All-SEC.) Sophomore Shi Smith had himself a nice year as well in 2017, tallying 409 yards on 29 receptions and nabbing 3 touchdowns. OrTre Smith, Chavis Dawkins, and Randrecous Davis all look to get action in for the Gamecocks as well. OrTre had a pretty productive 2017, catching 30 passes, which was third most on the team. He was ranked fourth in the SEC in receptions per game by freshmen with 2.3 a game. For the Gamecocks to be where they want to be in 2018, OrTre and Shi Smith need to have very productive years. So with that said, the Gamecocks look to be in good position. Oh. I forgot one. The preseason first team All-SEC wide reciever/returner Deebo Samuel. I mean, what do I need to say? If not for a season-ending injury, he very well may have been an All-American candidate in 2017. The six-footer is back and healthy, and that means we get to see Deebo be Deebo. Who knows what would have happened last year if Samuel had not gone down with a broken leg against Kentucky. What I do know, though, is that he is the most explosive player in the SEC as a receiver, and maybe in the nation as a returner. So sit back and enjoy: This looks to be an air raid offense, and the Gamecocks have the talent and depth at the receiver position to put up some points this season
  21. Six freshmen who could play right away for Gamecocks Jul 23, 2018 Will Muschamp has proven in the past two years that he's not afraid to play true freshmen. "We have played more true freshman than anybody in the country the last two years. Print that," Muschamp told reporters prior to his appearance at SEC Media Days last week. Muschamp had six true freshmen who either started or got significant playing time last season. With Deebo Samuel injured, freshmen receivers Shi and OrTre Smith were big parts of the offense, with Shi starting seven games and OrTre getting 10 starts. Mushcamp loves new redshirt rule The Gamecocks, which won nine games for only the seventh time in school history, played four true freshmen on defense. Defensive back Jamyest Williams made six starts and finished eighth on the team with 38 tackles, along with two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Sherrod Greene started two games at linebacker, while Aaron Sterling and Brad Johnson both got playing time at defensive end. "We haven't ever been scared to play young guys," defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. "We are going to play the best people. Our motto is this: if you are the best, you will start; if you are good enough, you will play. We have some young guys who are definitely going to need to help us, and they will help us." Here's a look at six true freshmen who could see significant playing time in 2018. DT Rick Sandidge While the Gamecocks will have five new, young offensive linemen in camp, it is difficult for true freshmen to make an impact on the offensive line. While it's no easier on the other line of scrimmage, there will be opportunities for true freshmen to contribute on the defensive line. South Carolina must find a defensive tackle who can play alongside Javon Kinlaw and replace Taylor Stallworth. It also needs depth in the middle. Bentley on new up-tempo offense The Gamecocks have four freshmen defensive linemen who have a chance to contribute in Rick Sandidge, J.J. Enagbare, Jesus Gibbs and Tyreek Johnson. "I think we have recruited well [on the defensive line]," Muschamp said. "The young players are talented. … We need some of those guys to step up. … All those guys athletically move around well, they retain information well, they run well, they have good strength. We will find out in camp how well they can play." The best of the group may be Sandidge, a four-star recruit who was rated the second-best defensive tackle in the country by Rivals. The 6-5, 285-pound tackle from Concord, N.C. should push for playing time in the two-deep rotation and could wind up starting alongside Kinlaw at some point. DT/DE Kingsley "J.J." Enagbare A four-star recruit from Atlanta, Enagbare was the Class AA Defensive Player of the Year in Georgia and rated the 10th-best strong-side defensive end in the country by 247. He impressed South Carolina coaches with his athleticism during spring practice and could wind contributing at both defensive end and inside. "J.J. is a guy who shows promise. We're excited about him," Robinson said. LB Rosendo Louis Jr. Linebacker is South Carolina's most experienced position on defense with the return of junior T.J. Brunson (88 tackles last year) and fifth-year senior Bryson Allen-Williams. But there will be plenty of competition for the other spot and the backup roles. The Gamecocks signed two linebackers in Ernest Jones and Louis, a four-star recruit who committed to Florida State before changing his mind and signing with South Carolina. He could wind up being the backup to Brunson at the MIKE position or could push for playing time at the WILL. He impressed Robinson in spring practice. "I saw a 240-pound grown man run around and hit everything that moves," Robinson told Athlon Sports, which pegged Louis as a "rising star." Deebo flashes style on and off field DB Israel Mukuamu Mukuamu, who played at Berkeley High School in Moncks Corner before moving to Louisiana for his senior year, has rare size for a DB at 6-4, 200 pounds. He impressed coaches in the spring and is expected to provide depth at corner behind Rasahd Fenton, Keisean Nixon and transfer Nick Harvey. "I'm really excited about Israel," Robinson said. "We always talk about being a big and fast football team, and he gives you a lot of length. He is exactly what we want to be because we want to be a bump-and-run team outside. When you look at his wing span, it is difficult to get around a guy like that." DB Jaycee Horn Another four-star recruit, Horn could also push for playing time at cornerback or the nickel position. The son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee was rated the 20th-best cornerback in the nation by Rivals and 22nd by 247. Though he did not enroll in time for spring practice, he is expected to contribute right away. At 6-1, 195, he also has the size Robinson is looking for on the corners. "Length. We keep talking about that. We have to get longer," he said. "He definitely gives us that and he can run and he has great skills down the field, ball skills. We are excited about him." QB Dakereon Joyner Perhaps the biggest wild card on the team, Joyner is the most decorated player in the 2018 recruiting class. A four-star recruit, he was the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior and the state's "Mr. Football" as a senior. He was 40-3 as starting quarterback, won a state championship as a sophomore, threw for almost 10,000 yards in his career and accounted for 52 total touchdowns as a senior. Dakereon Joyner Joyner flashed his speed and athleticism in the spring game, rushing for 21 yards and completing one 25-yard pass. He will enter fall practice third on the depth chart behind starter Jake Bentley and senior backup Michael Scarnecchia but offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon could design some special plays for Joyner just to get him on the field. With the new redshirt rule, he could see action early in the season to see how much he can contribute as a true freshman. "Anybody who can help us win football games we are going to try to get on the field, and certainly Dekareon made a lot of progress in the spring," Muschamp said. "We'll see how he does in training camp."
  22. Position Breakdown: Running backs We take a look at the ground game July 25, 2018 Today we’re going to take a look at the tailbacks. Now, this is a position I am very intrigued by, and I am very interested to see how this group does this season. Traditionally, the best teams in SEC run the ball very effectively. When Carolina went on the run it did under Steve Spurrier, it was in large part due to the running game of legends Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw. Since the Will Muschamp era began in Columbia, it has been running back by committee and I honestly don’t see that changing this year. I expect A.J. Turner to bethe starter against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 1 when the Chanticleers come to town. He led the team with 531 yards and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. He didn’t start in the Outback Bowl due to missing a little time with a high ankle sprain. Turner is also the 43rd player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in his career. Unfortunately, Rico Dowdle knows all about injuries. He was the starter Day One in 2017, but suffered a broken leg midway through the season against Tennessee. We all know what he is capable of, though: He came back in time for the Outback Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines and gave the spark that the Gamecocks needed, rushing the ball six times for 45 yards and 1 touchdown. I could see Dowdle starting and having a very good year; it all depends on that leg and the beating it will take. Ty’Son Williams seemed to get more and more of the ball near the end of the season. He got the start against Michigan and led the team in rushing against Clemson. The North Carolina transfer has impressed since moving a little south of Chapel Hill. The year he had to sit out, he earned a share of the Offensive Scout Team Award, which shows you why the staff like this guy. He is hard nosed and does not shy away from contact. He was second on the team in rushing with 471 yards and 1 touchdown. For the Gamecocks to win games — and I mean games against Georgia, Clemson, and Texas A&M — the running game will have be able to dig Jake Bentley and the offensive line out of some holes. In the big time games, you have to be balanced, which was evident in the Clemson game, when the Gamecocks couldn’t run the ball and keep the Tigers’ offense off the field. A lot of that has to do with getting push in the trenches, and Carolina is getting better in that department. Caleb Kinlaw is a guy I want to see more. The Wisconsin Badgers transfer played on special teams mainly last year, but has explosive ability. Mon Denson seems poised to get some action as well. The 5-foot-10 redshirt junior is good in short-yardage plays and has shown he can carry the load. In the Gamecocks’ win against the Florida Gators, he led the team with 61 yards and grabbed his first two touchdowns as a Gamecock. He did not participate in the spring due to knee surgery, so we will see how is at fall practice. With all that being said, the Gamecocks are very deep and talented at the running back position, which looks to be instrumental for the Gamecocks if they truly want to compete for the SEC. The key is keeping everyone healthy, so in the fourth quarter the depth is there to step on opponent’s throat.
  23. How one longstanding relationship helped make this big-play receiver a Gamecock July 24, 2018 Bryan McClendon had been at South Carolina more than a year and a half by the time wide receiver Tyquan Johnson committed to USC. But the former Georgia Bulldog had been after him much longer than that. Johnson’s coach at Screven County, Ron Duncan, said the wide receiver had caught the coach’s eye all the way back when he was a freshman. Johnson was at a camp at Georgia, already a precocious talent. And the bond has carried through. “We have a good relationship,” Johnson said. “We have a better relationship than most of me and the other coaches from other colleges.” McClendon was Georgia’s running backs coach at the time. He came to USC as a wide receiver coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator after last season. Johnson, a three-star prospect who is one of the few 2018 players who didn’t enroll early, was part of a talented group that moved through the Screven County program. The Gamecocks are still awaiting final word on his enrollment, Muschamp said last week Duncan said the group had the makings of something special in seventh grade, when he joined the program. Johnson started six games as a freshman, still needing to do some maturing, and left with every notable receiving record the school had. And McClendon noticed the 6-foot-3, fast, wiry freshman. “They had a developed a relationship when coach McClendon was at Georgia and Tyquan was going to camps there when he was younger,” Duncan said “ think that was probably the main thing that cemented that relationship with South Carolina.” That and the proximity. Screven County is just on the other side of the South Carolina border. Duncan pointed out that Johnson’s high school is closer to Columbia than even Athens. “It meant a lot,” Johnson said. “Going that far and not being able to get to your family. It kind of got to me a little bit.” One of the best players he played alongside, lineman/fullback C.J. Wright, also stayed close, picking Georgia Southern. (At 6-foot, he wasn’t being recruited by power schools.) So if he ever wants or needs to get home, it’s just a quick ride down the country roads, through Swansea, Blackville, Barnwell and down into Sylvania, Ga. “With the relationships he has here, he’ll be far enough away where he’ll be on his own and have to learn away,” Duncan said. “But he’ll also be close enough to where his family can come see him or he can come home when he has an opportunity.” THE STATE
  24. What Jake Bentley will ask of Gamecocks freshman QBs this fall July 24, 2018 Jake Bentley picked up a tip at the Manning Passing Academy this year that he plans to implement in South Carolina’s meeting room this season. “This year especially I am going to try to watch my film and what I need to watch and maybe ask Jay (Urich and fellow freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner) to do something very specific and really focus in on one aspect of what a defense does just to see what they came up with,” the Gamecocks starting quarterback said. “That’s one thing I learned from the Mannings when I went down to the Manning Passing Academy was involve every one so everyone feels like they are part of the group.” Bentley, a junior, was a counselor at MPA for the second straight year this summer. The collegiate quarterbacks at the annual event in Louisiana coach youth players for part of their day and then have meeting and field time with Peyton and Eli Manning. Bentley hopes his new plan will help Urich and Joyner as they familiarize themselves with collegiate defenses.Senior Michael Scarnecchia will be Bentley’s backup, but Urich or Joyner could be part of specialized package for South Carolina this year due to their athleticism. Urich is a redshirt freshman while Joyner is in his first year with the team.

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