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  1. ByJohn Whittle 10 hours ago The South Carolina football team lost its two starting tight ends - Jacob August and K.C. Crosby - from last year but they’ve been replaced on the roster by a pair of freshmen, who are now both on campus. When the Gamecocks open the 2019 season, the top two tight ends on the roster are likely going to be veterans Kyle Markway and Kiel Pollard but waiting in the wings are freshmen Traevon Kenion and Keshawn Toney. The pair were recruited and signed to play for position coach Pat Washington, but he’s now off to Appalachian State as former running backs coach Bobby Bentley has taken over at the position. Toney, from Williston-Elko High School, enrolled in January and was able to go through winter workouts with the team. He’s been on the field for each spring practice as the Gamecocks are now more than halfway through the 15-practice slate. “Keshawn has done a really good job picking the system up. He’s really going to be a really good player, and I’m excited about his future,” Bentley said. “I think he’s a wide receiver who can play tight end. When you look at his tape from high school, he’s a guy splitting guys down the middle and can really run. He’s a big guy, 245 or 250 pounds, and can really motor.” Kenion was initially supposed to enroll at the same time as Toney, but he wasn’t able to get onto campus until this week. “Trae Kenion just got in, and we have to get him out to practice now and get him caught up to speed,” Bentley said. “Just going back and looking at his video from high school, he is really talented. I can’t wait to get him out on the field and see him running around on the grass.” Even though he’s not yet on the field, just the time around the program will be a benefit going forward. “It’s so big because a guy can come into the spring and not have to worry about a game. Now, he can come in a little more relaxed, practice is every other day and there’s a gap in between them. It’s a lot better transition for a young man when he does it, and it will help Trae tremendously this time next year.” The Gamecocks lost two tight ends from last year’s team, and have two players with significant experience ready to fill the first-team roles that were vacated by August and Crosby. While the veterans will likely take the starting roles, there are two freshmen who will play a big part in the future of the tight end position at South Carolina.
  2. Check out the Spurs on the helmet
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    Gamecock Nation Today

    Gamecock Nation Today Thursday, March 21, 2019 Good morning and Happy Thursday! Today is the football program's annual Pro Timing Day. We are 16 days from the spring game and 163 days from the season opener versus North Carolina in Charlotte. Not that we're counting. Facebook & Twitter. If you were directed to this newsletter from Facebook or Twitter, you can sign up here to receive it each weekday morning in your email inbox. – Brian Shoemaker (email) Randrecous Davis/Credit: Chris Gillespie 1. Three things we learned about USC’s offense Gamecock offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon spoke with the media on Wednesday and updated several topics related to the offense. Here is what we found out during our talk with McClendon: USC’s backup quarterback situation is still unsettled Everyone knows that senior Jake Bentley is the incumbent starter, but the battle for the No. 2 spot is one of the most intriguing storylines of the spring. Will Muschamp has noted that the staff would like to have an idea of who the next man up is at the conclusion of spring, but there does not appear to be a clear frontrunner at this stage. What McClendon said: "I still think we have a lot to look at before we even consider a pecking order. Right now we’re trying to give those guys the exact amount of reps. Now we have a good body of work of understanding who exactly did what with each group. It’s kind of gets tough when you look at somebody working with the third team, then the second team, then the first team. We’ve got a lot more information to gather before we get there." Improving the run game continues to be a point of emphasis Coaches and players alike have harped on it all spring: The offense needs to be able to run the ball better against good teams in 2019 to have success against a loaded schedule. McClendon expanded on that and how he hopes to utilize the backs. What McClendon said: "The inability to stay balanced hurts any quarterback. When you can do that and they have t o play both the run and the pass on a play, it puts any quarterback in a comfort zone. I think you’ve got to rely on a couple guys (backs) going into each game. Trying to play three a game is way too much. It’s kind of hard for a guy to get into a rhythm. We want to be able to narrow it down going into a game. You would like it to be the same two guys." No spots are guaranteed on offense Prompted by a question about Rico Dowdle returning from injury and getting back to full strength and how it could affect his playing time, McClendon began talking about the senior back before expanding on a larger point: The staff expects every player, no matter the experience or talent level, to warrant a spot on the field. What McClendon said: "If he doesn’t earn it in practice, he ain’t gonna get it in the game. We’re going to play the best two guys. If he’s not in the best two, he’ll be over there standing next to me. He’s got to go out there and compete and get it right in practice. That goes for everybody, whether it be quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end, o-line. We’re going to play the guys that do it the best in practice. All those guys are getting reps and getting reps with a different group. Who is the most productive guy? That’s the only fair way to go about it. This isn’t the YMCA. Not everyone plays. Performance is the only language I understand when it comes to playing time." – Chris Clark (email) Ryan Hilinski/Credit: Chris Gillespie 2. Hilinski, Pro Day and more football The most impressive thing Ryan Hilinski has done this spring Bryan McClendon is quick to point out that freshman early enrollee quarterback Ryan Hilinski has just participated in seven practices as a college player. But there is one thing in particular that has impressed the Gamecocks' playcaller about the young quarterback: his bravery in the pocket. "That's one of the biggest things that I've been most impressed with is he hasn't flinched, he hasn't flinched," McClendon said. "They go in there, and they send stuff at him, and he's making the right checks and doing the right things and just he hasn't flinched. That's probably been the biggest thing that I've been really really impressed with him about." A former four-star prospect, ranked the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class, Hilinski is currently competing for the No. 2 quarterback spot. Gamecocks set to work out for NFL scouts Thirteen former South Carolina players are set to work out for NFL scouts at the Jerri and Steve Spurrier indoor practice facility today. The Gamecocks set to participate are Bryson Allen-Williams, Ben Asbury, Zack Bailey, Blake Camper, K.C. Crosby, Dennis Daley, Rashad Fenton, Steven Montac, Keisean Nixon, D.J. Park, Deebo Samuel, Michael Scarnecchia and Malik Young. The players will first go through NFL-Combine style testing such as the 40-yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle before working out on the field for scouts. Pro Day begins at 8 a.m. and Gamecock Central will have complete coverage. More Gamecock Football Photo gallery: Spring practice No. 7 (link) Video: McClendon breaks down the offense (link) Carolina Confidential: Wes Mitchell offers his thoughts about the offensive depth chart after Wednesday's practice (subscription) – Wes Mitchell (email) Mark Kingston/Credit: Chris Gillespie 3. New and notes 💪👇 Football: Bryan McClendon on the wide receiver signees – Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon brought in a three-man receiver class that features size and athleticism. On Wednesday, McClendon discussed what he saw in all three incoming players. (link) Baseball: Kingston announces rotation, updates injuries – Heading into the second weekend of SEC play, the Gamecocks are sticking with some familiar faces in the weekend rotation against Tennessee. (link) This weekend's SEC baseball series • Florida at Vanderbilt (begins tonight) • LSU at Georgia • Texas A&M at Kentucky • Arkansas at Alabama • Auburn at Miss. State • South Carolina at Tennessee • Ole Miss at Missouri Baseball Links: SEC Standings | Schedule | Statistics | Polls Softball: Gamecocks come back in walk-off win over Duke – South Carolina scored five-unanswered runs over the final two innings on its way to its largest comeback victory of the season in a 5-4 win over Duke. (link) Swimming & Diving: USC opens NCAA Championships – South Carolina opened the 2019 NCAA Championships with a 7:13.66 in the 800 freestyle relay, the first event of the four-day meet. (link) Men's Tennis: Carolina to host pair of top-40 SEC teams – South Carolina will be back at home to host a pair of ITA top-40 teams this weekend beginning with No. 40 Kentucky on Thursday and then No. 28 Vanderbilt on Saturday. (link) Men's Golf: Gamecocks move into rankings – South Carolina entered the top-25 of the latest Golfstat team rankings at No. 20 after three consecutive top-four finishes to open the spring campaign. (link) – Jackson Fields (email) Deebo Samuel 4. Plan your schedule accordingly 🏈 Thursday, March 21 • All day – Women's Swimming & Diving, NCAA Championships (Austin) • Morning – Football Pro Timing Day; Will Muschamp speaks with the media • 4 pm – Men's Tennis hosts Kentucky, YouTube Friday, March 22 • All day – Women's Swimming & Diving, NCAA Championships (Austin) • All day – Will Muschamp Football Coaches Clinic • Morning – Football spring practice; tight ends coach Bobby Bentley speaks with the media after practice • 1:45 pm – Women's Basketball vs Belmont, NCAA Tournament (Charlotte), ESPN2 • 4:30 pm – Women's Tennis at Vanderbilt, video • 6:30 pm – Baseball at Tennessee, SECN+ NCAA Tournament games in Columbia • Game 1: 12:40 pm – Ole Miss vs Oklahoma • Game 2: 3:10 pm – Virginia vs Gardner-Webb • Game 3: 7:10 pm – Duke vs North Dakota State • Game 4: 9:40 pm – VCU vs UCF Saturday, March 23 • Morning – Will Muschamp Football Coaches Clinic • Morning – Football spring practice • All day – Track & Field, Buccaneer Invitational (Charleston) • All day – Women's Swimming & Diving, NCAA Championships (Austin) • All day – Women's Golf, Evans Derby Experience (Auburn) • 12:30 pm – Women's Soccer hosts Wake Forest • 1 pm – Men's Tennis hosts Vanderbilt, YouTube • 2 pm – Softball hosts Ole Miss, SECN+ • 6 pm – Baseball at Tennessee, SECN+ – Jackson Fields (email) 5. This Date in Gamecock History 📆 March 21, 2006 – The Gamecocks needed some overtime heroics to keep their NIT title drive alive, as they finished regulation tied with Florida State at 58. South Carolina thought they'd won the game in regulation but a Renaldo Balkman jumper was ruled to have been after the buzzer in Tallahassee. Tarence Kinsey sealed the win in the extra period by making three free throws in the final 26 seconds, giving USC a 69-68 win. Tre Kelley led USC's scoring with 17 points, while Kinsey added 14, Rocky Trice 12 and Brandon Wallace 11. The Gamecocks would go on to win the NIT in New York nine days later. March 21, 1985 – The Gamecocks set a school record with nine home runs and Dave Hollins tied a record by homering three times in a 29-3 win over Cincinnati. – John Parker (gamecockarchives.com) 6. Key Dates (Countdown) ⌚ • March 22 – Muschamp Coaches Clinic (1) • April 6 – Football: Spring game (16) • April 25 – NFL Draft begins (35) • May 8 – SEC Softball Tourney (48) • May 21 – SEC Baseball Tourney (61) • July 15 – SEC Media Days begins (116) • July 20 – Muschamp Ladies Football Clinic (121) • Aug. 31 – Football: Gamecocks vs UNC (163) 7. Birthdays and Celebrations! 🎂 • Tarence Kinsey – The Tampa native played sparingly as a true freshman, though he did make three starts. Kinsey averaged 2.2 points and 0.8 rebounds that year (2002-03). He stepped into the starting lineup the next season and remained there during his time at USC. Kinsey averaged 8.3 points in 2003-04 and 8.9 points in 2004-05 as Carolina won the NIT. As a senior, Kinsey averaged 35 minutes a game, increasing his totals to 15.8 PPG and 4.6 rebounds. USC would win its second straight NIT that year and Kinsey earned honors for his work, being named second-team all-SEC by the league's coaches. He would go on to play three seasons in the NBA with the Grizzlies and Cavaliers before going on to a long career overseas in Turkey and Israel. He was named MVP of the 2010 Turkish League finals. • Billy Byrne (football/fullback, 2010-11) • Eric Cooper (football/offensive guard, 1984-87) • John Green (football/linebacker, 1974-77) • Brian Hawkins (football/defensive lineman, 1988-91) • Bruce Hoffman (football/middle guard, 1973-76) • Leroy Martin (football/wide receiver, 1983) • Cedric Surratt (football/safety, 1988-92) – John Parker (gamecockarchives.com) 8. Around Gamecock Nation 🎈 • March 27 – Greenville, President's Reception (link) • April 10 – Give 4 Garnet (link) • April 23 – Augusta, Spurs Up Tour • April 24 – Midlands, Spurs Up Tour • April 29 – Lancaster, Spurs Up Tour • April 30 – Greenville, Spurs Up Tour • May 2 – York, Spurs Up Tour • May 7 – Sumter, Spurs Up Tour • May 8 – Myrtle Beach, Spurs Up Tour • May 9 – Atlanta, Spurs Up Tour • May 14 – Charleston, Spurs Up Tour Note: Will Muschamp is scheduled to appear at all of the Spurs Up Tour events. More information, including specific locations and ticket prices, will be announced as it becomes available. – Brian Shoemaker (email)
  4. Coach Bryan McClendon talks Dakereon Joyner and speculation of position change March 20, 2019 South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon has experience seeing a quarterback try to transition to a different position. After the first spring that Will Muschamp’s staff was on campus, McClendon got quarterback Lorenzo Nunez in his wide receiver room. The athletic 6-foot-3 passer spent the season redshirting and departed soon after. He’s now in charge of an offense that includes quarterback Dakereon Joyner, a dynamic dual-threat passer whose name has been floated outside the program as a possible position change candidate. Does he have the skills to possibly make that transition? “I don’t know,” McClendon said. “Right now, we just want him to be the best quarterback he can be. So if it got to that point, then maybe. He has the tools to do different things. But right now we just want him to be the best quarterback he can be.” Joyner is in the midst of a battle for the backup spot behind Jake Bentley. He managed to carve out the No. 3 spot last year behind veteran Michael Scarnecchia, and now he’s going against Jay Urich and four-star Ryan Hilinski to back up Bentley, a senior. At 6-foot-1, 208 pounds, Joyner showed off his mobility at Fort Dorchester High School and, at points, when he’s played in college. He’s quick enough that he was used as a scout team receiver before the bowl game, running the jet sweeps that dynamic playmaker Olamide Zaccheaus did in Virginia’s offense. At that size, he could project a move to receiver, safety or even running back possibly. Back in 2016, McClendon made the point that quarterback speed is often a little different from wide receiver speed. At the time he’d just started working with Nunez, who played a good bit of quarterback his first year at Southeastern Louisiana State. Last season, Nunez threw seven passes, caught 15 and ran 39 times. But any question of a move is being put to the side. Joyner is a quarterback, one who has improved a good bit since he was an early enrollee last season. “He’s looking a lot better,” McClendon said. “Just a lot more comfortable with everything that he’s doing. “He’s having a pretty good spring.”
  5. by THESPURSUPSHOW Which position units are the biggest strengths for Gamecocks football heading into the 2019 season? There are three position groups where the Gamecocks are particularly strong going into next season. Below is a full breakdown, along with who is expected to start and what freshmen could make an early contribution for the Gamecocks. Offensive Line If you’ve watched Carolina football for a long time, the offensive line has always been a weak point. The fact this is the first area of strength I thought of is a testament to offensive line coach Eric Wolford. This selection has more to do with him than any of his players. He’s proven during his time in Columbia that he knows what he’s doing and will have them ready to play no matter the personnel. The Gamecocks lose Zack Bailey and Dennis Daley to the NFL, but bring back plenty of talent and promise. Sadarius Hutcherson will make the move to left tackle to replace Bailey, which Wolford talks about here. The other returnees are Dylan Wonnum at right tackle, who made the SEC All-Freshman team and Donnell Stanley who moves back to his natural position at guard. Those three will be the anchors of the line, while Stanley moving opens up a spot at center. That likely will go to Hank Manos, who started against Virginia in the Belk Bowl. That leaves the other guard spot, which could go to Jovaughn Gwyn, Eric Douglas, or Jordan Rhodes. I believe coach Wolford will be able to keep this unit playing at an elite level even though the shifting of positions and departures. Defensive Line Having the first two areas of strength be the lines is always a good sign, especially if you want to compete in the SEC. If not for injuries, this would’ve been a strength last season also. After a monster sophomore season and high expectations, D.J. Wonnum was limited to 5 games because of a nagging ankle injury that plagued him throughout the season. If he’s healthy, he’ll headline a unit comprised of Javon Kinlaw, Keir Thomas, and Aaron Sterling. The most exciting part is, those are just the upperclassmen. Freshman superstar Zacch Pickens is joined by Kinglsey Enagbare, Rick Sandidge, and Joseph Anderson, all underclassmen who should contribute. This group has depth that we haven’t seen in Columbia in a long time and new defensive line coach John Scott Jr. should have plenty of players to work with. Defensive Back This is the position group Gamecock fans should be the most excited about. Rashad Fenton and Keisean Nixon are gone. However, there’s a ton of talent from the returning players to the incoming freshmen. Last season, Jaycee Horn was the best corner on the team by a wide margin, which was evident week one against Coastal. Fighting through injury, he still made the aforementioned SEC All-Freshman team. He’s expected to play on the outside with Israel Mukuamu, a rare 6’4” cornerback who can actually move. The potential for this tandem is limitless and the thing I’m looking forward to the most next season. Jamyest Williams can play either nickel or safety but hasn’t found a place to stick yet in his two years. A.J. Turner is practicing at corner, which he played in the bowl game. He is joined by incoming freshman Cameron Smith, Johnny Dixon, and Shilo Sanders. Safety is a little less clear at the moment but Southern Cal transfer Jamel Cook is expected to start after sitting out last season. Redshirt Senior J.T. Ibe could start next to him but will face competition from R.J. Roderick, who showed promise at the end of the year. Others considered will be Jaylin Dickerson, Jonathon Gipson, and freshman Jammie Robinson who I’d bet will be on the field by the end of the season. Defensive Coordinator Travaris Robinson coaches the DB’s himself and these guys will allow him to finally play physical, which is how he wants to. Conclusion The defensive line should help the defensive backs and vice versa. A better pass rush allows them to cover for shorter periods of time, and better coverage allows more time for pass rush. This could be the key to a transformed defense, much like the ones we saw under Will Muschamp at Florida. The offensive line is critical to offensive success because Jake Bentley is less than stellar with pressure in his face and the running backs…well, they will be in next week’s article about the weakest position groups on the team. While these aren’t the only positions that lead to success, offensive and defensive line and defensive back are three of the most important and will be critical with next year’s brutal schedule.
  6. DL coach John Scott Jr. talking sacks March 19, 2019 When John Scott Jr. was coaching for the New York Jets, the team’s defensive coaching staff did a study of college defensive tackles trying to determine their pass-rushing ability. “We looked at how many times a game out of a 65-70 play game would a d-tackle actually get to rush the passer, and it was like five or six times for the whole entire game,” Scott Jr. said. “When you get that time it’s critical that you do something with it, but it has changed your pass rush.” Changes in offenses, chiefly run-pass option plays and quicker throws that leave little time for defenders to get to the quarterback with the ball in his hand, are making sacks more difficult to come by, and few teams are feeling that pain acutely than South Carolina. Since leading the SEC in sacks in 2012 with 43 (a conference-best 13 of which came from Jadeveon Clowney), the Gamecocks have averaged an 11th-place finish in the league in sacks. In the Will Muschamp era, South Carolina has finished 11th and 9th in the league in sacks. The Gamecocks thought they had solved that particular problem last year with veteran bookends D.J. Wonnum and Bryson Allen-Williams entering the season but due to injury Wonnum and Allen-Williams only played three games together during the 2018 season. Allen-Williams is gone to graduation now, but Wonnum is back to full strength after a senior ankle injury and once again South Carolina thinks it has enough pieces on the outside of the defensive line to turn around its sack swoon. “Definitely,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. This spring, the Gamecocks have Wonnum, Aaron Sterling, J.J. Enagbare and early enrollee freshmen Rodricus Fitten and Joseph Anderson working at end. In the fall, they will get Danny Fennell back from a knee injury. Senior Keir Thomas also will play both end and tackle in the fall. “That’s four or five guys who can really get after it. I’m excited about it,” Robinson said. “I’m excited to not have to pressure all the time be able to just rush four and get to the quarterback.” The Gamecocks also have a new defensive line coach in Scott, who replaces Lance Thompson. While he hopes to help South Carolina boost its sack totals, he says the Gamecocks will play run first across the defensive front because most offenses dictate that approach. “I remember when I first got into coaching, even in ’08 and ’09, the first thing you told that 3-technique was he had to beat that guy off the edge. Now you’re telling that guy, you have to do a great job of constricting that (rushing) lane,” Scott said. “That’s taken out a lot of the straight true pass rush you get. The thing that we have to be good at it is converting from playing run to pass. It’s opposite in the NFL, they want those guys to get off the ball and go rush the passer. We have to train them, ‘Hey, that’s not where we’re at right now. We have to play run first and react to pass.’”
  7. Early lines are out. How much South Carolina is favored by over North Carolina March 19, 2019 South Carolina football is coming off a difficult 7-6 season and will face a brutal slate in 2019. North Carolina went with a surprising coach hire in Mack Brown, and got some attention for the coordinators it added. But one oddsmaker has the Gamecocks as a solid favorite when the teams meet in Charlotte on August 31. According to Stadium.com reporter Brett McMurphy, oddsmaker BetOnline.ag released a batch of early lines that have the Gamecocks as a touchdown favorite against the Tar Heels. That’s a bit lower than Bill Connelly’s projections. The last time South Carolina opened the season in Charlotte, it scored an upset win against N.C. State to kick off a 9-4 season. North Carolina is coming off a 2-9 season. The Tar Heels won five games in the past two years, setting the stage for Larry Fedora’s departure. The Gamecocks return much of their offense from last season, minus top play-maker Deebo Samuel. They’re hoping for a bounce back from the defense, which was riddled with injuries. Clemson was also listed as a 21-point favorite in it’s second game, a non-conference showdown with Texas A&M.
  8. It’s been the biggest pitfall for Will Muschamp’s offense. How USC aims to fix it March 13, 2019 THE STATE No one familiar with South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp’s career will be shocked to learn he’s harping on the running game this spring. “That’s his No. 1 thing,” Gamecocks guard Sadarius Hutcherson said. Specifically, Muschamp remains frustrated by his team’s inability to run the ball effectively against good teams. South Carolina played four teams last year that finished the season with a run defense ranked in the top 31 nationally. It averaged 3.16 yards per carry (348 yards on 110 carries) against those teams. “Against good teams we really didn’t do all that well. Anybody can see that,” center Donell Stanley said. “We have to take the next step and that’s what he wants, as on offensive line, as running backs, as an entire offense. We need to be able to run the ball against good teams.” The Gamecocks were 91st in the nation last year in rushing against Top 25 teams, a statistic that was magnified that they played five ranked teams, as many as any team in the country. South Carolina averaged 99 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry in those games. And lost all five times. “We have struggled to maintain balance against good defenses in our league,” Muschamp said. The fix will not be easy. It includes “finishing blocks,” offensive line coach Eric Wolford said. “There’s been a big emphasis on finishing blocks and improving the run game here this spring,” Wolford said. “A lot of times we get on blocks and against good people they are able to get off blocks. We want to work on maintaining that.” The Gamecocks return three of last year’s starting five on the offensive line and look to be replacing Dennis Daley and Zack Bailey with Eric Douglas and Hank Manos. All the offensive linemen are stronger than they were a year ago, Stanley said. “Everybody’s body is changing,” he said. “Everybody’s got the mindset of wanting to run the ball. As an o-line we love that and we love that challenge, and I appreciate Coach Muschamp for calling us out on it because he’s 100 percent correct.” Muschamp also placed plenty of responsibility on the running backs. South Carolina, which hired Thomas Brown to coach running backs in the offseason, returns Rico Dowdle, Mon Denson and Deshaun Fenwick from a year ago and could get a boost from the addition of freshmen Lavonte Valentine and Kevin Harris. Dowdle has missed the first five spring practices due to injury. “In our league, you’re not going to be able to block everybody,” Muschamp said. “There is going to be a free hat in the box at some point and you have to be able to make a guy miss and that’s something we need to be able to do better consistently.” That comes down to “mindset,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “I think it’s getting creative, getting creative in our play-calling, getting creative in how we block some things, but I also think it’s a mindset thing and understanding that if it’s third-and-1, third-and-2 that we have to go get the first down no matter what it takes,” Bentley said. “I think guys are really developing that mindset and really working hard.”
  9. Gamecocks freshman tailback Kevin Harris has a nickname March 08, 2019 Gamecocks players calling freshman tailback ‘Jerome Bettis, the big bus’ South Carolina freshman tailback Kevin Harris didn’t even have to don pads before making a first impression on his teammates. They just saw him walk into the weight room and got a sense of what his game was about. “Strong,” sophomore corner Jaycee Horn said. “Since he came in, before he got on the field. We call him Jerome Bettis, the big bus. His legs are big. You look at him, his arms are big. In camp, he’s been running the ball real hard.” Bettis, the No. 7-leading rusher in NFL history, is a pretty lofty comparison, but if nothing else, his powerful style was distinct. Horn said he realized as far back as seeing the videos the social media team put together of Harris. As a starter, he’s been able to mostly not go head-to-head with Harris, but per a video circulating on social media, some teammates haven’t been so lucky. Harris came in listed at 5-foot-10, 235 pounds, a tank of a back. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said there had been some questions about his speed, but when he came to camp, he alleviated that for the staff. Then he piled up 1,556 yards and 22 touchdowns as a high school senior, the sixth-best total in Georgia (he had 1,680 as a junior). The spring has opened up a few snaps for him as projected starter Rico Dowdle is limited by an undisclosed injury and A.J. Turner is working on defense. Mon Denson is the only veteran in that group right now, leaving Harris to battle with Lavonte Valentine and Deshaun Fenwick for work. “Kevin Harris ... is a guy that we’re real excited about,” Muschamp said on an appearance on the Chuck Oliver show. “Runs hard, runs tough, young player but certainly we think has got a big upside.” Gamecocks running backs coach Thomas Brown said his goal is to have a top pair of backs who handle most of the workload, and he has a trio of veterans back with Turner, Dowdle and Denson. But while all three have shown flashes, none have grabbed the job by the reins across the past two seasons. So there might be an opening for Harris before 2020, when all three veterans depart. On the field, he’s making some waves with big impacts on defenders. Off the field, it’s a different story. “A real laid back guy, chill, cool,” Horn said. “Gets along well with everybody.”
  10. The five things South Carolina believes it must do better to win more game March 10, 2019 South Carolina’s coaching staff has identified five factors it believes are critical to the Gamecocks’ success on the field. The 2018 season proved their point, head coach Will Muschamp said. In the seven games South Carolina won three or more of its critical factors, it won. In the six games it lost, it did not. “That’s indicative of kind of how we were, very inconsistent at times,” Muschamp said. Again this year, starting with the spring practice, the Gamecocks will pour their energy into coming out on top of each of these five factors — turnover margin, explosive plays, field position, red zone and the fourth quarter. Here’s a look at how the 2018 season went in each of those areas: TURNOVER MARGIN The Gamecocks’ No. 1 emphasis throughout spring practice and much of fall camp will be reversing their turnover fortunes. South Carolina was 101st in the country last year in turnover margin, giving the ball away 21 times and only getting it back 16 times. The Gamecocks had finished in the nation’s top 25 in turnover margin the previous two seasons. “It’s not something we don’t always emphasize, but it obviously really hurt us last year,” Muschamp said. ▪ South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15 – Won turnover battle 1-0 ▪ No. 3 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17 – Lost turnover battle 2-1 ▪ South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14 – Lost turnover battle 3-2 ▪ No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10 – Lost turnover battle 4-1 ▪ South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 – Won turnover battle 2-0 ▪ No. 22 Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 24 – Lost turnover battle 2-0 ▪ South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 – Lost turnover battle 1-0 ▪ South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44 – Won turnover battle 1-0 ▪ No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 – Tied 1-1 ▪ South Carolina 49, Chattanooga 9 – Won turnover battle 2-0 ▪ No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35 – Tied 1-1 ▪ South Carolina 28, Akron 3 – Lost turnover battle 4-3 ▪ Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 – Lost turnover battle 2-1 EXPLOSIVE PLAYS The installation of Bryan McClendon as offensive coordinator seemed to pay off in 2018. The Gamecocks offense had 107 “explosive plays” as measured by the South Carolina staff — meaning a run of 10 or more yards or a pass of 20 or more yards. The bad news is they gave up 104 such plays, including an average of 12 per game against the five ranked teams they played. No team in the SEC gave up more plays of 10 or more yards than South Carolina last year. “We gave up way too many explosive plays,” Muschamp said. ▪ South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15 – Won 12-1 ▪ No. 3 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17 – Lost 11-2 ▪ South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14 – Won 11-4 ▪ No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10 – Lost 11-7 ▪ South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 – Lost 10-6 ▪ No. 22 Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 24 – Tied 8-8 ▪ South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 – Won 8-4 ▪ South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44 – Lost 12-9 ▪ No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 – Lost 10-5 ▪ South Carolina 49, Chattanooga 9 – Won 15-4 ▪ No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35 – Lost 20-10 ▪ South Carolina 28, Akron 3 – Won 7-4 ▪ Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 – Won 7-5 FIELD POSITION Muschamp felt good about how the Gamecocks did in this category but does wonder how replacing Deebo Samuel’s 24.8-yard kickoff return average will affect field position in 2019. Looking back at last season, the most glaring problem was against Kentucky as the Wildcats started on average at their 42-yard line in their fifth straight win over South Carolina. ▪ South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15 – South Carolina at its 28, Coastal at its 27 ▪ No. 3 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17 – South Carolina at its 28, Georgia at its 25 ▪ South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14 – South Carolina at its 34, Vanderbilt at its 26 ▪ No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10 – Kentucky at its 42, South Carolina at its 20 ▪ South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 – South Carolina at its 33, Missouri at its 33 ▪ No. 22 Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 24 – Texas A&M at its 25, South Carolina at its 23 ▪ South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 – Tennessee at its 30, South Carolina at its 29 ▪ South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44 – South Carolina at its 34, Ole Miss at its 28 ▪ No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 – Florida at its 28, South Carolina at its 24 ▪ South Carolina 49, Chattanooga 9 – South Carolina at its 33, Chattanooga at its 22 ▪ No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35 – Clemson at its 25, South Carolina at its 24 ▪ South Carolina 28, Akron 3 – South Carolina at its 40, Akron at its 21 ▪ Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 – Virginia at its 35, South Carolina at its 34 RED ZONE The Gamecocks were next-to-last in the SEC in red zone scoring a year ago at 76.8 percent. Their touchdown percentage in the red zone wasn’t much better, ranking 11th in the conference at 57.1 percent. The defense also ranked 11th in the conference in touchdown percentage allowed in the red zone at 59.7 percent. South Carolina has to reverse both of those trends this year, Muschamp believes. “It’s a dagger for the offense to go down there and have to settle for a field goal or no points,” he said. ▪ South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15 – South Carolina 4-for-4, Coastal 1-for-3 ▪ No. 3 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17 – Georgia 3-for-4, South Carolina 1-for-3 ▪ South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14 – South Carolina 3-for-7, Vanderbilt 2-for-4 ▪ No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10 – Kentucky 2-for-4, South Carolina 0-2 ▪ South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 – South Carolina 3-for-4, Missouri 3-for-8 ▪ No. 22 Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 24 – Texas A&M 2-for-5, South Carolina 1-for-2 ▪ South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 – Tennessee 3-for-4, South Carolina 3-for-6 ▪ South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44 – Ole Miss 5-for-9, South Carolina 4-for-6 ▪ No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 – South Carolina 4-for-5, Florida 4-for-6 ▪ South Carolina 49, Chattanooga 9 – South Carolina 5-for-7, Chattanooga 1-for-2 ▪ No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35 – Clemson 7-for-8, South Carolina 2-for-4 ▪ South Carolina 28, Akron 3 – South Carolina 2-for-5, Akron 0-for-0 ▪ Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 – Virginia 4-for-5, South Carolina 0-for-1 FOURTH QUARTER The Gamecocks named their offseason program the “Fourth Quarter Program,” which suggests the amount of importance they place on the final 15 minutes of each game. “In our league most every game is going to come down to one or two possessions in the fourth quarter, so we talk about winning the fourth quarter,” Muschamp said. “It’s critical we are able to do that.” They were able to outscore their opponent in the fourth quarter five times last year. Overall, the Gamecocks outscored their opponents 72-69 in the fourth quarter. ▪ South Carolina 49, Coastal Carolina 15 – Coastal 9, South Carolina 7 ▪ No. 3 Georgia 41, South Carolina 17 – South Carolina 7, Georgia 0 ▪ South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14 –South Carolina 7, Vanderbilt 0 ▪ No. 17 Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10 – South Carolina 0, Kentucky 0 ▪ South Carolina 37, Missouri 35 – Missouri 12, South Carolina 6 ▪ No. 22 Texas A&M 27, South Carolina 24 – Texas A&M 10, South Carolina 7 ▪ South Carolina 27, Tennessee 24 – South Carolina 3, Tennessee 0 ▪ South Carolina 48, Ole Miss 44 – South Carolina 14, Ole Miss 7 ▪ No. 19 Florida 35, South Carolina 31 – Florida 14, South Carolina 0 ▪ South Carolina 49, Chattanooga 9 – South Carolina 14, Chattanooga 6 ▪ No. 2 Clemson 56, South Carolina 35 – South Carolina 14, Clemson 14 ▪ South Carolina 28, Akron 3 – South Carolina 0, Akron 0 ▪ Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 – Virginia 7, South Carolina 0
  11. Gamecock Wrap Up Final Practice Before Spring Break with video John Scott Jr March 07, 2019 GCF Staff Report Gamecock Wrap Up Final Practice Before Spring Break With the way South Carolina has broken up the defensive line coaching early, Scott has been working with a smaller group. Star tackle Javon Kinlaw is sidelined by hip surgery. Keir Thomas has also been limited, and might well be primarily an end in the team’s four-down look. (MORE)
  12. Second-year defender thinks newest Gamecocks linebacker will ‘be a heck of a player’ March 06, 2019 There’s an old football turn of phrase that a player or team looks good getting off the bus. Sometimes it’s a commentary on a gap between stature and talent. Other times, it means a home team is about to get thrown around. South Carolina linebacker Derek Boykins certainly passes the bus test. The early enrollee freshman looks every bit his listed 6-foot-1, 226 pounds in practice thus far this spring. And at least early on, it appears his nature matches his build. “Derek is a physical guy,” fellow linebacker Ernest Jones said. “He’s a big, physical guy. Once he learns what to do and gets up to speed, he’s going to be a heck of a player.” As a high school senior, he stuffed the stat sheet with 117 tackles, six for loss, four sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and five QB hurries. Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp several times alluded to Boykins’ ability to work in space. But as he’s getting his first taste of college practice, the coaches aren’t putting him in that spot just yet. “We’ll move him around a little bit,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. “So we’ll start him off at the Mike and let him play Mike. That’ll keep him out of some of the coverage stuff.” That plan lets him focus on run fits and playing in the box before diving into the complexity of the weakside spot. But what does he bring to the table? “He’s smart, he can run and he’s powerful,” Robinson said. “So those three things are what we’re looking for in every linebacker we recruit here at South Carolina.” South Carolina’s linebacker position is in a little flux in the spring and goes toward 2019 with a mix of stability and questions. The team isn’t on track to lose anyone from last year’s rotation, but the group also needs to produce more if the defense aims to improve. Third-year middle linebacker T.J. Brunson is out all spring after procedures to fix a sports hernia and meniscus damage, while Eldridge Thompson and Rosendo Louis are either limited or in non-contact jerseys. That’s bad news for the latter two, who could probably use more work, but it opens things up for those behind them. Jones is currently the top Mike linebacker, with Boykins behind him. Sherrod Greene is the top at the weakside spot. Boykins’ high school coach Kenneth McClamrock said he expected his former player would follow closely whoever was the leader at his position, learning the finer points of the college game. Obviously that’s Brunson, who is sidelined, but Jones has seen Boykins working his way through things and putting in the effort. “With both of us being young, we’re both still trying to learn some things,” Jones said. “I’m kind of a little ahead right now. But he’s picking up on it. Playing the middle linebacker position, Mike linebacker position, it’s not the easiest thing. So extra hours of film and stuff like that, which he is doing, it’ll all pan out.”
  13. What former 4-star Gamecocks lineman has shown in spring after moving to offense March 05, 2019 THE STATE That move, changing from one side of the ball to the other on a college team, can sometimes be the start of the end of the end for a player’s career. South Carolina moved M.J. Webb, a former four-star defensive tackle, to guard this spring, at least for a five-practice trial period. And four practices in, he seems to have done what’s been asked. “The thing is, a lot of times, you take a defensive lineman, you bring him over and they realize that now, athletically, they’re probably ahead of most of the guys on that side of the ball,” Gamecocks offensive line coach Eric Wolford said. “He’s still in a learning curve part of it. But he makes progress every day. I tell him every day, just get better at one thing, and if you keep doing that, in 90 days, you’ll be that much better. “Just take things one day at a time, stack good days and good things are going to happen.” The 6-foot-3, 288-pound lineman never found his way into the full rotation last season. He redshirted as a freshman and then got snaps here and there as injuries mounted up front. He finished his sophomore season with four tackles and a hurry, but the team’s recruiting efforts were also adding more talent up front each cycle. USC has some options at guard, but it sounds as if any progress will be measured and behind the scenes, at least in the short term. There’s also the question of a move back to defense, once the five-pracitce trial ends, but Wolford went full tongue-in-cheek with his confident answer. “It will be his choice, but everybody wants to be an offensive lineman, really deep down in their hearts,” Wolford said. “Just good salt of the earth people.” IYAMA INJURY UPDATE Wolford said offensive tackle Maxwell Iyama has not yet been cleared from what Will Muschamp terms an unidentified medical issue has sidelined him thus far in the spring. “It’s one of those things where we leave the medical side to handle their backyard,” Wolford said. “I’ve got enough problems in my own backyard.” Wolford said Iyama is still at practices and meetings. The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder did not see the field as a freshman last season.
  14. Jake Bentley ‘deserves more respect,’ former Gamecock teammate says March 03, 2019 THE STATE INDIANAPOLIS, IND. South Carolina senior quarterback Jake Bentley will enter the 2019 season with something to prove to a lot of people, but not to former Gamecocks teammate Dennis Daley. “I feel like Jake Bentley is going to show people something,” Daley said. “Jake Bentley deserves more respect than he’s getting right now.” Daley defended USC’s quarterback last week while at the NFL Combine, saying he thinks Bentley is unfairly criticized. “Some people are frustrated with him because sometimes he’s up and down, but Jake Bentley is growing and I’ve got faith in him,” Daley said. “I feel like he’s going to prove a lot of people wrong this year.” Bentley has started 31 of the last 32 games for South Carolina since taking over the job midway through his true freshman season. He has 7,385 career yards and will leave school as the Gamecocks’ all-time leading passer if he matches last year’s yardage total this year. “I have been knowing Jake since he was seventh or eighth grade,” former South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel said at the combine. “He’s a great team leader.” The chief complaints about Bentley’s play are centered around his 30 career interceptions (14 last year) and his 1-10 records against ranked teams. “He gets rattled here and there, but you never see Jake hang his head,” Samuel said. “He’s always going to give you his all.” Samuel met with Bentley after the “third or fourth” game of the 2018 season to assure the quarterback his team had faith in him, Samuel said. Bentley had seven touchdowns and six interceptions in the first four games last year. He had 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the final nine games. “Early on we started off a little sluggish and he got down about himself, but me as a teammate and a leader, I went to him and said, ‘We believe in you, you go out there and play and we’re going to make things happen,’ ” Samuel said. Daley believes Bentley will silence all his doubters this season. At the very least, Bentley will have plenty of chances to change his record against ranked teams. The Gamecocks play five teams next year who are ranked in Athlon Sports’ early Top 10 ranking for the 2019 season. “I’ve got faith in him,” Daley said, “and I feel like he will show people.
  15. What Jake Bentley said about Ryan Hilinski and Gamecocks backup QBs March 04, 2019 Jake Bentley knows what he wants in a backup quarterback – the same thing he had last year. “If you look back on it and think about (Michael Scarnecchia) and what he did,” Bentley said Monday. “He was one of the most consistent and hardest working guys on the team, and it obviously paid off for him in the Missouri game. He was a guy that came to practice every day with the right mindset to compete with me every single day.” With Scarnecchia lost to graduation, South Carolina is auditioning redshirt freshmen Dakereon Joyner and Jay Urich and true freshman Ryan Hilinski for the backup job this spring. Through three spring practices, all three have looked good, senior offensive lineman Donell Stanley said. “They all have been taking reps. I feel confident blocking for anybody,” Stanley said. “It’s a good competition at that position. That’s what we need at every positions. All of them are showing that they can play and they’re competing. That’s what we need.” Joyner and Hilinski are considered the frontrunners for the job, and Hilinski has done a good job of absorbing the Gamecocks’ system despite being just a week into his college career, Bentley said. “He’s looked good. He’s looked real good,” Bentley said. “He’s able to pick up the plays really well coming in here and showed some good things. Like all of us, he’s learning a lot, but he looked good.” Bentley, who has started 31 of the last 32 games for South Carolina, is trying to tutor all three backup quarterbacks, he said. “Especially now just trying to pour into them as much as I can and give as many tips and information as I can to try and help them as much as I can like Perry (Orth) and guys before me did,” he said.
  16. What Jake Bentley learned going through a rocky 2018 season March 01, 2019 South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley wasn’t one to delve too deep into his own ups and downs. He’s a college athlete who has been in the spotlight for awhile. His father is a coach. So as he looks at some of what he learned his second full year as a starter, he wraps them in the standard language of an athlete interview. At times late in the 2018 season, he admitted his season was about navigating leadership, managing highs and lows that come with a season. He drilled into something fundamental but still technical, and perhaps it says something larger about his own journey. “I think there’s a lot of lessons we can learn from this year,” Bentley said. “I think taking care of the ball at the beginning of the year is a big thing. Whoever’s fault it was, it was an interception, so I think that’s the big thing. But I think the understanding of being able to take the second part of the year and grow on that and be able to understand the mindset that it takes to be able to win.” He’s now entering a fourth season on campus. He’s been considered an offensive leader for the past two years. Yet there have been rolling ups and downs for him. His first year (2016) he was hailed as a conquering hero and the future. His second (2017) opened with him being called “presidential” and ended with just a solid season. Last fall, his start was simply not that good. He struggled with deep balls and, at one point, led the SEC in interceptions. He got hurt and watched backup Michael Scarnecchia lead the team to a win, then returned and got booed off the field after a disastrous first half. Then everything clicked and he was quite good for 6 ½ games. He was prolific, the offense was firing … and then South Carolina got shut out in the Belk Bowl by a middling Virginia team that picked him off twice and held him to a completion percentage of 43.6. He finished with 3,171 yards (third-best in program history), a record 510 yards against Clemson, 27 touchdowns (second-most in school history) and 14 interceptions, 10 in the team’s six losses. Before the bowl he was asked about what he could take from that bad start and hot finish. Like he often did, he made it about something beyond his own experience. “There’s so much to be learned from this season by the whole team,” Bentley said. “Just the way we responded to adversity throughout the year. The way guys have just really had to battle back and lean on each other throughout the whole year.” It’s worth noting, in South Carolina’s program history, there haven’t been many quarterbacks who left on their highest note. Connor Shaw did, but had to weather calls for his backup into his senior year. Dylan Thompson took criticism throughout his record-breaking senior season. Bentley will not only be the senior leader, but he’ll also be the oldest presence in the quarterback room for the first time. When he came to campus, he was the second-most experienced scholarship freshman on the roster. He was for so long the freshman who skipped a year of high school to enroll early. Now he’s the old guy. “That’s one thing that’s kind of hit me lately,” Bentley said. “It’s going to be weird, going to be weird for me being that older guy, but I think it’s going to be cool to really just be able to see how they grow, to help them the best I can.” He’ll have Jay Urich, Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski battling for the backup behind him and likely looking for guidance, as he’s now the elder statesman, a veteran of 32 starts. When he announced his return for his senior season, Bentley said he had unfinished business. His team is still looking for either a win against Clemson or a trip to Atlanta. Considering the brutal 2019 schedule, he’ll likely hear about coming back to meet those goals. He got good at tuning that out soon after he arrived on campus, he said. Whether it was the back pats online when things were going well, or the venom and boos when they weren’t, he’s gone though a lot and learned a good bit at he stares down his final season. “It’s college football,” Bentley said. “You can’t be worried about what social media is like or anything else. It’s been a process of breaking that real fast.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  17. South Carolina football: 5 realistic goals for 2019 offseason South Carolina is looking to fix a host of issues this offseason that left the Gamecocks in fourth place in the SEC East last season. Will Muschamp has retooled his coaching staff, given offensive line coach Eric Wolford a raise and brought in Thomas Brown to coach running backs. The Gamecocks have a veteran quarterback and a pair of Top 70 recruits to be difference-makers in due time. Some of the issues have needed to be resolved for years, but as the coaching tenure of Muschamp enters his fourth year in Columbia, his stamp on the program is especially evident. Here are five realistic goals for this offseason: 1. Strengthen the running game The addition of Brown comes at a time when the Gamecocks moved A.J. Turner to defense, and have not had a 1,000-yard rusher for five seasons. Mike Davis was the last one in 2013 with 1,183 yards. Brown should not only be an upgrade from Bobby Bentley at that position, he’s a bona fide recruiter in two hotbeds for the Gamecocks: metro Atlanta and south Florida. Both as a player at Tucker High in Atlanta and as a Georgia player and assistant coach, and later as a Miami assistant, Brown is very familiar with those two key areas. Rico Dowdle, however, was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher, and just the 18th rusher in the SEC. Brown and the coaching staff as a whole need to elevate the running game throughout the spring. 2. Settling on roles for Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski Joyner only appeared in one game (Chattanooga) in 2018, though he was thought to contribute in multiple games, and saw practice time leading up to the Belk Bowl. By indications from Muschamp, Joyner has improved most in the passing game, which was expected even with him being an early enrollee a year ago. With a redshirt year behind him, it appears even more possible that he be inserted at least for special packages. With Michael Scarnecchia gone, Joyner and redshirt sophomore Jay Urich are the most experienced QBs outside of Jake Bentley. For Hilinski, he brings an interesting presence as the second-ranked pro-style QB in his class. As we’ve seen in recent years with other highly-rated prospects at quarterbacks, a transfer is very possible if they don’t play early. Bentley, who has won 19 games, is set to become the all-time program leader in several categories. While Muschamp declined to pump much oxygen into a quarterback controversy last season when Bentley was injured, lest we forget that Bentley replaced an upperclassman in Perry Orth and another highly-touted freshman Brandon McIlwain. 3. Establishing depth in secondary Walk-on Jason Senn had a cameo appearance late in the season because of a rash of injuries. Further shakeup in the depth chart came when Nick Harvey announced his intention to transfer, and J.T. Ibe received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA . There were four defensive backs signed in the most recent recruiting class. Factor in the losses of Keisean Nixon, Rashad Fenton and Steven Montac, no matter their talent, production or late-season drama, and there are plenty of questions about depth. The front seven has been fairly stable in recent years with consistent performers at linebacker and along the pass rush. But it’s the secondary that needs to quell the busted coverages and other headaches for the coaching staff. 4. Getting production from receiver post-Deebo Samuel Losing a veteran presence and the team’s leading receiver will be a tall order to replace, but if you combine the production of Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith, it’s 100 catches for 1,519 yards and the same number of touchdowns as Samuel produced — 11. Add in Josh Vann, who played in every game in 2018, and fellow returnees Chavis Dawkins and Randrecous Davis, who all caught TD passes. Even without Samuel, the Gamecocks will feature one of the best receiving corps around. Take the spring to develop chemistry with Bentley and all of the quarterback options in whatever situation or strategy they choose to focus on. 5. Developing a pass rush Javon Kinlaw led the team with 4.5 sacks in 2018, but that was just 22nd in the SEC. That’s part of the reason the Gamecocks were ninth in the SEC in sacks with 26. This has been a consistent problem for the program since before Muschamp took the helm. The Gamecocks haven’t been in the top eight of the SEC in sacks since 2013. They haven’t topped 26 sacks in a season since 2012 when they had 43 by a unit led by Jadeveon Clowney, who had 13. That’s obviously one of the goals of the addition of 5-star Zacch Pickens. The goal should be to elevate that number into the 30s, which would likely put South Carolina in the top 5 of the SEC as a team.
  18. DEFENSE: Who will play this key spot for USC? February 28, 2019 The nickel position is crucial in the structure of the South Carolina football team’s defense. Players there match with inside receivers, do a good amount of run support and are regularly targeted in the run-pass option plays that are a bedrock of many modern offenses. And if you ask South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson who is going to play there, he’d be hard pressed to answer. “I don’t know that yet,” Robinson said. “We’re going to work a couple of guys.” South Carolina has its 2018 starting nickel on the roster in Jaycee Horn. The 2017 starter, Jamyest Williams, is also still there. But in an ideal situation for the coaches, neither is there in 2019. “Obviously Jam got a lot of reps at nickel, Jaycee got a lot of reps at nickel,” Robinson said. “We’re going to use R.J. (Roderick) some at nickel, so that’s something that he’ll be able to do for us this year. We started that today with him.” At the moment, Roderick is likely the most consistent safety the team has. The staff would like to play Horn on the outside, where he has a high ceiling, and at the moment Williams is purely a safety. So the answer might come with newcomers, but they won’t get to campus until after spring. “I’m thinking maybe Shilo (Sanders) and Jammie Robinson will probably be some of the other guys who will compete to play in the nickel spot,” Robinson said. “I have no idea. I’m eager to see.” Sanders stands at 6-foot, 186 pounds. Robinson is a little more stout at 6-foot, 193 pounds, and head coach Will Muschamp said he’ll likely end up a nickel or safety. Williams’ one year there was a rocky one, while Horn thrived but basically could anywhere. The uncertainty points to the versatility of the Gamecocks secondary. Horn can play any of the spots. Williams can play two spots, as can Israel Mukuamu. If Roderick adds nickel to his repertoire, the Gamecocks could be closer to their goal of playing only the best five they have. Some of this will also fall on how good recruits Cam Smith and John Dixon are when they get on campus. USC hasn’t been shy about playing freshmen, and both have potential on the outside to help free up Horn. But if the worst-case scenario is a freshman All-American retaking his old spot, that’s not the worst, but it’s also not the ideal. “I would love to have Jaycee outside at corner, if he can,” Robinson said. “I think he can be really dominant outside. He gives us another bigger body, so we’ll be really big outside if that’s the case, but I don’t know that. We’ve just got to see where everybody kind of falls.”
  19. First practice in the books Impressions & observations from South Carolina’s first spring practice February 27, 2019 South Carolina football opened spring practice on Wednesday morning, taking the field outside the new operations facility. The team was only in helmets and shorts, per NCAA rules, but Will Muschamp got the first chance to practice with the likes of Ryan Hilinski and Zacch Pickens. Observations from the first three sessions of practice: ▪We got our first look at Hilinski, and at least in individual drills, he looked pretty accurate. Players were trying to hit targets on a net, and he appeared to do well. He struggled with some throws off a certain kind of handoff, but so did the rest of the QBs. ▪Starting wide receiver Shi Smith didn’t work in the main practice area, instead staying in the indoor with the injured players. After going through stretches, he went to trainers, who appeared to help him with his pads. ▪ Five-star defensive lineman Zacch Pickens appeared to have some kind of wrap around his right upper leg. He participated for parts of the three periods, but was also inside with injured players at one point. Defensive lineman Keir Thomas was also inside with the injured players. ▪ The Gamecocks ran skeleton offense and a defensive pursuit drill, which gave a sense of what the offensive and defensive depth charts might look like, give or take a number of injuries. The depth chart as was seen: 1ST TEAM QB: Jake Bentley RB: Mon Denson (Rico Dowdle was out) WR: Chavis Dawkins, Bryan Edwards Edwards, Josh Vann (Shi and OrTre Smith were both limited) TE: Kiel Pollard OL: Sadarius Hutcherson (LT), Donell Stanley (LG), Chandler Farrell (C), Eric Douglas (RG), Dylan Wonnum DL: Aaron Sterling (DE), Kobe Smith (DT), Rick Sandidge (DT), D.J. Wonnum (Buck) (Javon Kinlaw is out for spring) LB: Sherrod Greene, Ernest Jones, Eldridge Thompson (TJ Brunson is out for spring) DB: Israel Mukuamu (CB), RJ Roderick (S), Jonathan Gipson (S), Jaycee Horn (CB) (J.T. Ibe and Jamyest Williams are both out or limited early in spring) 2ND TEAM QB: Dakereon Joyner RB: Deshaun Fenwick, Joe Thomas WR: Chad Terrell, Randrecous Davis, Bailey Hart OL: Jordon Carty (LT), Summie Carlay (LG), Hank Manos (C), Jordan Rhodes (RG), Jaylen Nichols (RT) DL: Brad Johnson (Buck), Devontae Davis (DT), Jabari Ellis (DT), Kingsley Enagbare (DE) LB: Zay Brown, Damaini Staley, Spencer Eason-Riddle DB: A.J. Turner (CB), Jaylin Dickerson, Jamel Cook, Kevin Pickens Hilinski worked with the third-team offense. Nichols working there that early is notable because freshmen don’t generally step in on the offensive line in practice No. 1 The third-team defensive line was freshman Rodricus Fitten, Griffin Gentry inside and freshman Joseph Anderson. ▪ On hand watching were both of Ryan Hilinski’s parents, plus former NFL Pro Bowler Joe Horn, father of Jaycee Horn. ▪ During team work, Joyner broke out into space on what looked like a run and also had a slightly low pass into the flat that was dropped. Hilinski looked the be bringing a little energy to that drill on a day where the tone seemed more workmanlike. ▪ Urich was considered for emergency special teams work late last season and got some work there during kickoff work. ▪ Before practice, the team did sprints after stretching, something we’d not seen in previous seasons. ▪ Jamel Cook certainly looks the part of a tall, rangy safety, so it will be interesting to see if he can help provide some stability there. ▪ Players in yellow non-contact jerseys but practicing: Darius Rush, Eldridge Thompson. Jovaughn Gwyn, Dowdle and Ortre Smith were among the injured players working inside with the strength staff.
  20. Two starters change positions, but Gamecocks dodge a rebuild up front February 28, 2019 THE STATE Looking at the first depth chart last season, it seemed clear South Carolina football would be in line to rebuild its offensive line going into 2019. The group had four senior starters, and another senior as the top backup tackle. And yet, with two players moving back to old positions, USC will have three starters back, plus a redshirt freshman with a bowl start under his belt. Muschamp laid out his expected top offensive line to start spring practices, a group where three spots appear to have clear leaders and another is between a veteran walk-on and young player. He said everything is fluid, as is true at every position, but the structure of a top group is already clear. Left tackle: Former starting guard Sadarius Hutcherson Left guard: 2018 starting center Donell Stanley Center: Either walk-on Chandler Farrell or redshirt freshman Hank Manos Right guard: Not yet certain Right tackle: Dylan Wonnum It was down to Manos or Farrell to start the bowl game last year, and Manos got the nod despite a deficit in experience. Given the Chapin product now has a first offseason under his belt, it seems likely he’ll have the inside track there. Muschamp mentioned the names of Eric Douglas and Jordan Rhodes as options at right guard. Rhoades is a big, powerful lineman who was part of the team’s short-yardage package early last season. Douglas has been a reserve for the past two seasons and has been praised for his ability to work at multiple spots. Redshirt freshman lineman Jovaughn Gwyn could also be in the mix down the line, as he showed enough his first summer on campus to get in for garbage time of the first game before a season-ending injury. Hutcherson started his career as a tackle, albeit a raw one, and Stanley was a guard his first four years on campus. The chance to move them around, and possibly move them more if someone else emerges, owes to the approach of line coach Eric Wolford. “Eric does a really good job of introducing different concepts to his guys as far as being able to play inside and outside,” Muschamp said. “Last year, Hutch practiced a lot outside in case of injury and different things that could’ve happened. Comfort-wise, he’s going to be fine moving out to the left tackle position.” Hutcherson was an opening day starting guard in 2018. Stanley had moved from guard to center to address issues at that spot, and was granted a sixth year on campus, which allowed him to come back. Wonnum opened the season as a backup, but ended up jumping Blake Camper for a starting spot and was named a freshman All-American. With that group and Manos, the Gamecocks likely at least have the pieces to fill out much of the line with players who have at least gotten their feet wet. That turns focus to another place. “We’ve got some position flexibility as far as those guys are concerned,” Muschamp said. “We need to find out where are some more quality guys as far as depth is concerned.”
  21. Star freshman DT Zacch Pickens Banged up a little February 27, 2019 Courtesy of THE STATE Travaris Robinson has high expectations for Zacch Pickens, but right now South Carolina’s star defensive signee is “limited” in spring practice. “He’s just banged up a little bit,” Robinson, the Gamecocks’ defensive coordinator, said Wednesday after the team’s first spring practice. “He’ll be good.” Robinson did not specify what was bothering Pickens but said he expected him to be full speed by the end of spring practice on April 6. Pickens was dressed out for his first Gamecocks practice, but the practice was closed before most team drills began. “Right now he’s a little limited but he’ll be fine,” Robinson said. Pickens, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive lineman, was the first five-star signee of the Will Muschamp era and is expected to play right away for the Gamecocks. Down the line, he could be very good, Robinson said. “You ever seen that guy that play for the Eagles? No. 91, Fletcher Cox,” Robinson said. “That would probably be my ideal scenario, Aaron Donald and those kind of guys. He has that ability to do that one day. Obviously he’s a freshman. He’s a long way from doing that right now. He’s learning the plays right now. He doesn’t even know what we’re doing right now. He’s just running around like a chicken with his head cut off. “I want him to be really good and the best in our conference.” .mcclatchy-embed{position:relative;padding:40px 0 56.25%;height:0;overflow:hidden;max-width:100%}.mcclatchy-embed iframe{position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%}
  22. Another long list of injuries still out there as spring practice starts today February 27, 2019 OUT FOR SPRING -- Senior linebacker T.J. Brunson (offseason sports hernia/meniscus operations) -- Senior BUCK Daniel Fennell (ACL) -- Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Tyreek Johnson (2018 preseason camp ACL injury - possible non-contact by end of spring) -- Sixth-year senior running back Caleb Kinlaw (2018 preseason camp ACL injury - possible non-contact by end of spring) -- Senior defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (offseason hip surgery) -- Sophomore linebacker Rosendo Louis (shoulder - Muschamp mentioned he could be back as non-contact later in spring) -- Redshirt sophomore tight end Caleb Jenerette (undisclosed injury) -- Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Max Iyama is going through a unidentified medical condition. He has not been cleared to practice. LIMITED FOR SPRING -- Senior running back Rico Dowdle (undisclosed) -- Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn (foot operation last fall) -- Redshirt sophomore wide receiver OrTre Smith (kneecap operation last fall) -- Sixth-year safety J.T. Ibe (missed majority of season due to knee injury) -- Junior defensive back Jamyest Williams (shoulder surgery) -- Sixth-year linebacker (if deemed eligible) Eldridge Thompson (shoulder surgery)
  23. Will Muschamp Previews Spring Practice February 26, 2019 As South Carolina football closed in on the dawn of spring practice, a question loomed with five-star early enrollee defensive lineman Zacch Pickens. The 293-pound Pickens had been an end in high school, but at that weight seemed to fit the mold of the slightly smaller defensive tackles the staff had been moving toward last season. So how will USC’s staff approach the question of his position? (MORE)
  24. Will Muschamp calls Jake Bentley 'best QB on our roster' but he is still leaving the door open for another QB to start February 26, 2019 Now South Carolina has added a new quarterback to the roster in high school All-American Ryan Hilinski from California. The 2019 signee enrolled early on campus and is set to compete for the backup role this spring. Muschamp was asked about South Carolina’s young quarterbacks on Tuesday and the Gamecock coach claims three players will all be given an opportunity to work their way up the team’s depth chart this spring. “There’s no question those guys will get a fair amount of reps, obviously Dakereon (Joyner), Jay (Urich) and Ryan (Hilinski). All three guys have had really good offseason programs and worked extremely hard to put themselves in this position,” Muschamp said. “(They) gotta go out there with 11 on the other side and perform well. Certainly, I think all three are capable.” While he hopes to know who the team’s backup quarterback will be by the end of spring football, South Carolina’s coach said he’s in no hurry to make that decision. Here is what Muschamp had to say when asked if a decision on the backup role would be made by the end of spring camp. “I would hope so but I’m not going to put a timetable on it but at the end of the day, we’ve got 15 practices,” he continued. “A select number of practices in fall camp before we really need to make that decision so that’s not pressing, in terms of a time concern. They are all young players that need to improve and we’ve been pleased with their progress but now we are going to play football.”
  25. Gamecocks have no players at one position on its spring roster. Here are its options now February 26, 2019 When it comes to specialists for South Carolina football in 2019, Gamecock fans know the main returning faces — junior kicker Parker White is back after a bounceback sophomore campaign in which he made 13 of 16 field goal attempts, as is senior punter Joseph Charlton, who averaged nearly 45 yards per boot last year, tied for sixth in the SEC. But the person who snapped the ball to White and Charlton over the past two seasons, long snapper Ben Asbury, is gone. So is holder and backup QB Danny Gordon. As spring practices begin for the Gamecocks, coach Will Muschamp has two names he’s considering to take Asbury’s place. “Collin Bunch, whose father played here, from Pendleton High School, we’ve added to our roster, and Jackson Locklier, who played at River Bluff and Charleston Southern, we’ve added to our roster as well,” Muschamp said at his opening press conference Tuesday. Bunch’s father, Randy Bunch, was himself a long snapper for South Carolina in 1990 and 1991. In high school, Bunch played quarterback and free safety for Pendleton, graduating in 2017. Locklier was rated a four-star long snapping prospect by Kohl’s Kicking and played tight end and defensive end for River Bluff, graduating in 2018. The Gamecocks held a tryout for long snappers last fall when Asbury was recovering from an ACL tear, but Muschamp said his staff didn’t find Bunch and Locklier until another tryout this offseason. “We did one going into spring, knowing our situation, and both of those guys were guys we wanted to take a look at,” Muschamp said. Walk-on Matthew Smith, who backed up Asbury last season, is no longer listed on the team’s roster.

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