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  1. Josh Belk not practicing yet, early defensive depth chart, more from 1st USC practice August 03, 20148 South Carolina football opened August practice by going inside on Friday morning because of the rain. The team worked without pads. ▪ Clemson transfer Josh Belk was present but not in uniform and now practicing. He was walking around the field, and a team spokesperson did not provide a reason for that situation. ▪ The team did not do team offense drills, but ran a pursuit drill that approximated the defensive depth chart. DL: D.J. Wonnum, Javon Kinlaw, Keir Thomas (At tackle), Aaron Sterling (End) LB: Bryson Allen-Williams, T.J. Brunson, Sherrod Greene DB: Jamyest Williams, Steven Montac, Keisean Nixon (Nickel), Rashad Fenton, Nick Harvey 2ND TEAM DL: Daniel Fennell (end), Shameik Blackshear (end), Kobe Smith, Kingsley Enagbare LB: Damani Staley, Rosendo Louis, Ernest Jones DB: R.J. Roderick (nickel), Tavyn Jackson (safety), Jaycee Horn (corner), Jaylin Dickerson (safety), Israel Mukuamu (corner) 3RD TEAM DL: Alex DeLoach (end), Griffin Gentry (end), M.J.Webb (tackle), Tyreek Johnson (tackle) LB: Spencer Eason-Riddle, Alex DeLoach DB: Jaylan Foster (corner), Zay Brown (safety), Korey Banks, Jason Senn (nickel), Jonathan Gipson (safety) ▪ The team didn’t go full offense, but a set of offensive line drills give a sense of what the pecking order might be, including summer enrollee Dylan Wonnum with the second team. First team – Dennis Daley and Blake Camper at tackle, Zack Bailey and Sadarius Hutcherson at guard, Donnel Stanley at center. Second team – Malik Young and Dylan Wonnum at tackle, Will Putnam and Wyatt Campbell at guard, Hank Manos at center Third team – Maxwell Iyama and Jordan Carty at tackle, Christian Pellage and Jordan Rhodes at guard, Summie Carlay at center ▪ Injured players in yellow were: Buck Brad Johnson, linebacker Eldridge Thompson running back Lavonte Valentine, defensive tackle Jabari Ellis is safety J.T. Ibe, wide receiver Chad Terrell, wide receiver Josh Vann.
  2. 2018 Opponent Preview: Missouri After back to back road games, South Carolina returns home to face the Missouri Tigers in week six armchairallamericans.com August 03, 2018 OPPONENT: Missouri Tigers WHEN: Saturday, October 6, 2018 at TBD WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, SC) ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Series is tied 4-4 LAST MEETING: South Carolina beat Missouri 31-13 in Columbia, MO on September 9, 2017. 2017 RECORD: 7-6 (4-4) Head Coach… Barry Odom returns for his third overall season as Tigers head coach. Odom will enter his 17th year at Missouri as either a player, administrator or coach. Odom faced scrutiny last season after the Tigers got off to a 1-5 start. However, Missouri was able to reel off six straight wins on their way to an appearance in the Texas Bowl. Despite the late season success, Odom’s seat is still fairly warm and could get hotter if the Tigers struggle out the gate again this season. Returning Starters… OFFENSE (10) QB Drew Lock (6-4, 225) Senior RB Damarea Crockett Jr. (5-11, 225) Junior WR Emmanuel Hall (6-3, 200) Senior WR Johnathon Johnson (5-10, 185) Junior TE Albert Okwuegbunam (6-5, 260) Sophomore C Trystan Colon-Castillo (6-4, 315) Sophomore RG Tre’vour Wallace-Simms (6-5, 340) Junior LG Kevin Pendleton (6-4, 330) Senior RT Paul Adams (6-6, 315) Senior LT Yasir Durant (6-7, 340) Junior DEFENSE (7) DT Terry Beckner Jr. (6-4, 305) Senior LB Terez Hall (6-2, 230) Senior LB Cale Garrett (6-3, 235) Junior LB Brandon Lee (6-2, 225) Senior CB DeMarkus Acy (6-2, 195) Junior CB Adam Sparks (6-0, 175) Sophomore FS Joshua Bledsoe (6-0, 200) Sophomore How did they fare in 2017? Missouri struggled out the gate, losing five of their first six games before reeling off six straight wins to reach the Texas Bowl. The Tigers fell 33-16 to Texas to finish the year 7-6 overall. Best Returning Player… QB Drew Lock (6-4, 225) Senior The Tigers received a huge boost when QB Drew Lock decided to forgo the NFL Draft and return for his senior season. Lock was phenomenal a season ago, setting a SEC record with 44 touchdown passes. He’s being viewed as one of the top NFL Draft prospects entering 2018 and will look to lead the Tigers to back to back bowl games. Simply put, Missouri goes as Drew Lock goes. Overall Outlook… Missouri enters into what will be a crucial season for head coach Barry Odom. While the Tigers were able to reel off six straight on their way to a bowl game, Odom was the center of much criticism a year ago. The return of QB Drew Lock certainly helps. The Tigers also return nine other starters on offense and seven on the defensive side, making them one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. Ultimately, while the Missouri offense is impressive, they have been underwhelming against top level competition. The Tigers will need to prove they can play a complete game against the upper half of the SEC if they hope to have a breakout year. Watch out though: another rocky start similar to 2017, and Barry Odom’s job could be in jeopardy. 2018 SEASON PROJECTION: 6-6
  3. Gamecocks don’t want to rush Joyner now that hype is in rear-view mirror August 03, 2018 South Carolina freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner has all the hype of most any new passer, especially one with a four-star rating and the ability to run. At least outside the Gamecocks program. Offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon was asked about the first-year passer from North Charleston, especially about his arm. The new head of USC’s attack took the more patient route. “We’ll see,” McClendon said after the team’s first practice of August. “It’s still very, very early. And a lot of the times, whether a guy is accurate or not, that has a lot to do with understanding and overall understanding more so than anything else. And so I would like to see when everything else as far as his understanding catches up with his ability, then I feel like you get a good chance to see what he can really do.” Joyner enrolled early and came into a scheme being built by McClendon with the likes of Dan Werner and Bobby Bentley contributing. He came though spring splitting third-team reps and struggled in the spring game. He was 1-for-5 passing with an interception and three sacks, posting zero yards on nine carries. The day before, Will Muschamp praised some of the softer skills Joyner has. “What I have seen with Dakereon is a guy who has off the charts leadership capability,” Muschamp said. “Positively effects everyone around him. You can see why at 15 years old he won a State Championship at Fort North Chester High School right here at Williams- Brice. He has the uncanny leadership ability to affect everyone around him. He has that kind of charisma, and that is certainly what you want at the quarterback position.” As a high school senior at Fort Dorchester, he had 3,400 yards of offense and 52 touchdowns, and posted a 40-3 career record, including the 15-0 state title run. The topic again came up of perhaps installing a special run-heavy package for Joyner, and McClendon, like Muschamp, said it was an idea that was more for down the road. “It’s still a long time out,” McClendon said. “And he needs to worry about being a quarterback and grasping other stuff.”
  4. The position battles Will Muschamp is most interested in as camp starts August 02, 2018 South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp almost called them concerns. He let it slip for a second before correcting himself about the areas he wants to see through August camp, heading toward the Gamecocks’ season opener. “If you just had to ask me, concern-wise personnel,” Muschamp said. “Maybe not concerned, but interested to see position battles.” The top areas that came to mind: Depth up front on both sides Muschamp has said he likes the team’s top offensive line and tackle Malik Young. He and his staff like the three returning starters up front on the defensive line — Javon Kinlaw, Keir Thomas, D.J. Wonnum — and said the right things about Aaron Sterling and Shameik Blackshear. But they want more. “They’re going to have to play,”Muschamp said. “And a lot of these guys have either been here and haven’t played or just stepped on our campus, and we’ve got to get those guys game-ready.” Safety There’s one elder statesman the coach trusts in Steven Montac, and behind him, a lot of potential. The group includes a former corner, former nickel, mid-major grad transfer and some high-ceiling freshmen. “Montac’s the only guy that’s played in a college game at that position,” Muschamp said. “So there’s some concerns there. I like our ability, I like the talent level. Just haven’t done it.” Backup linebacker T.J. Brunson is established in the middle, and Bryson Allen-Williams could play a lot of spots as a redshirt senior. At least three other players have played, and even started, but there’s a lot to sort out with Skai Moore gone, especially if Allen-Williams can find himself in a dual role as he played early last year. “I like our talent, I like our ability,” Muschamp said. “Just haven’t done it. So we’ve got to get those guys ready.” Most every offensive skill spot USC has more running backs and wide receivers that have proven they can take major snaps than one team can play. Tight end is more unsettled, but Muschamp said up to six guys could contribute. “The competition is going to be fun to watch,” Muschamp said. “Because I think we’ve recruited well at those positions.” Kicker Parker White returns off an up-and-down first season starting. He’ll have to hold off Kent State grad transfer Shane Hynes and former starter Alex Woznick. Muschamp expects the competition to run through camp. Punt returner USC has to replace veteran Chris Lammons and had a hard time finding good help here in 2016. There are a good number of explosive, talented players, including but not limited to Jamyest Williams, Shi Smith, Keisean Nixon. That diversity is something Muschamp thinks will help whoever wrests control of the job. “The talent and ability is there,” Muschamp said. “And certainly the competition, to me, guys having to strain every day is going to create consistency in their performance.” THE STATE
  5. https://collegefootballnews.com/2018...ngs-prediction18. South Carolina Gamecocks (NR)2018 Preseason USA Today Coaches Poll & Rankings Predictionhttps://collegefootballnews.com/2018...ngs-prediction18. South Carolina Gamecocks (NR)Predicting The Final College Football Playoff Rankings 1-130: How Will The Season Go?https://collegefootballnews.com/2018...ngs-no-1-130/519. South Carolina GamecocksPreseason Predicted Regular Season Record: 8-4A shocking loss at Vanderbilt might derail a ridiculously hot start – highlighted by wins over Georgia and Tennessee – but a bad November will crush the ranking. The Gamecocks will limp across the finish line with three road losses in their last four games.
  6. Ranking South Carolina’s road games We take a look at the toughest road tests for the Gamecocks August 01, 2018 College football is in the air, the 2018 season is right around the corner and the South Carolina Gamecocks look poised for one of the better seasons in school history. With practice starting August 3, I am foaming at the mouth. So, with that being said, I want to take a look at each road game the Gamecocks will have this year and rank the toughest places to play. Vanderbilt Commodores: Vanderbilt Stadium (Capacity 40,550) The Commodores welcome the Garnet and Black on September 22 with the time TBA. This will be the first road test of the season for Carolina and the Gamecocks will be looking to win their tenth straight against Vandy. South Carolina, who owns the series with a 23-4 record, won the last meeting in Nashville 13-10. We all remember that game as it was the first game with coach Will Muschamp at the helm. It took an Elliott Fry 55-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the game to put the Commodores away for good. The Gamecocks could also have more fans in the stadium than the hosts which could make this the easiest away game they have all season in terms of environment. Rank: 5th Kentucky Wildcats: Kroger Field (Capacity 61,000) Kentucky has been a PROBLEM for the Gamecocks even when they had legends like Marcus Lattimore, Jadaveon Clowney, and Connor Shaw. Nobody can quite put their finger on as to why Carolina struggles with Wildcats, but they do. The Wildcats have won four straight and are looking to extend their longest win streak in series history. The Gamecocks lead the all time series 17-11-1. The last time Carolina went to Lexington, it fell short in a 17-10 loss to Boom Williams and the Wildcats. With last year’s 23-13 loss, the Gamecocks look to end the streak and quiet the Kentucky faithful. Rank: 3rd Ole Miss Rebels: Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium (Capacity 64,038) Ole Miss looks to be one of the tougher road trips on the schedule in terms of environment. The Rebels have lost star quarterback Shea Patterson with him transferring to Michigan, which is a huge loss, and with all of the controversy in Oxford, recently Carolina could be getting the Rebs at the right time. South Carolina has won the past two meetings against Ole Miss, and won the last time in Oxford by a score of 31-24. Chris Smelley had arguably the best game of his career, throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Ole Miss leads the series 8-7, but the Gamecocks will be heading to Oxford with hopes of making it a three-game win streak against the cross-division foe. Rank: 4th Florida Gators: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Capacity 88,548) The Swamp is one of the toughest places to play in the country. When the Gators are playing well and the fans get behind them it gets intimidating for opposing teams. So when South Carolina travels to Steve Spurrier Field, it hopes to quite the crowd early. With new man in charge Dan Mullen, the Gators will look to improve on a very strange Jim McElwain era as they could never really put it together. The last time the Gamecocks played at The Swamp, Carolina never looked in the game, losing 20-7. Last year was a different story, when the Gamecocks pulled out a 28-20 win at Williams-Brice Stadium. The Gators lead the all time series 26-3-9 and have enjoyed traditional success against South Carolina. Rank: 2nd Clemson Tigers: Clemson Memorial Stadium (Capacity 81,500) With Clemson’s rise to a national power in the past few years, the Gamecocks have been overwhelmed the last four meetings. Last yea,r the Tigers came into Columbia and handled Carolina 34-10. The running game never got going and Jake Bentley looked pedestrian in the loss. The last time Carolina traveled to the upstate was a time we all wish we could forget, when Deshaun Watson and the eventual national champions thumped Carolina 56-7. For the Gamecocks to go into Memorial Stadium and come out with a win they need to be clicking on all cylinders. Clemson leads the all-time series 69-4-42. Rank: 1st
  7. Sportsbooks give odds for South Carolina to make the College Football Playoff August 01, 2018 The odds are long for South Carolina football, of that there’s no doubt. But one can still put down a bet the Gamecocks will make the College Football Playoff. The sportsbook Bovada gave Will Muschamp’s squad 40-to-1 odds to make the post season. That ranks 29th among the 58 teams listed, tied with UCF, Utah and UCLA. That ranks ninth in the SEC, a few spots behind Florida (25th) and Missouri. Clemson comes in at No. 2 nationally at -130. The sportsbook BetOnline.AG gave USC slightly longer odds at 45-to-1, but still had the Gamecocks behind Missouri. USC opens the season Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium.
  8. Gamecocks ranked in this publication’s preseason top 25 August 01, 2018 South Carolina’s football team will likely find itself at the edges of more than a few preseason top-25s before kickoff in 2018. Just days before practice starts, the Gamecocks found themselves ranked by one outlet. The Sporting News put USC at No. 22 in its preseason rankings. The Gamecocks were included in those rankings at the end of the 2017 season, but one spot lower. “Florida and Tennessee are breaking in first-year coaches, so this is a unique opportunity for Will Muschamp to lead the Gamecocks to a breakthrough in the SEC East,” Sporting News’ Bill Bender wrote. “Quarterback Jake Bentley is back and should continue to improve with his supporting cast, too. Having a healthy Deebo Samuel will be a huge boost to the Gamecocks’ season.” The Associate Press poll comes out Aug. 20. South Carolina is coming off a 9-4 season capped by an upset win against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. The team returns eight starters on offense and players like Rashad Fenton, Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Wonnum on defense. Multiple national voices have said they expect the Gamecocks to win nine or 10 games in the regular season. They improves from three wins in 2015 to six the next year and then nine. USC opens the season Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina at noon in Williams-Brice Stadium. THE STATE
  9. Position Preview: Gamecock rushing attack should improve with veteran backfield July 31, 2018 South Carolina loses just 30 of the 1,588 rushing yards it had last season, and those 30 yards came from tight end Hayden Hurst. In other words, expect much of the same attack from the Gamecock run game. The four-headed monster of Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner, Ty’Son Williams and Mon Denson returns, while the Gamecocks will also get an added boost from highly-touted freshmen Deshaun Fenwick and Lavonte Valentine (although, most likely, on special teams). “It’s a group that wants each other to be the best that they can be,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said. “You see them in the weight room and Rico’s pushing A.J. to put more on the squat rack. Or A.J. is pushing Ty’Son to do this, or Ty’Son is pushing Mon. “All these guys push each other, and I think you’re going to see during the season, one of them is going to score, and then all the other running backs are going to be the first ones to celebrate with them.” Position Previews: QB | WR | DL SC fans lamented the Gamecocks’ struggle to run up the middle last season as the Gamecocks averaged just 122.2 yards rushing per game, 12th in the SEC and 111th nationally. But expect that effort to improve with last year’s right tackle Zack Bailey now at left guard, Donell Stanley at center and Sadarius Hutcherson taking over at right guard. “Having those guys in there and having that push, I know the running backs are excited about it,” Bentley said. “… They know how good the offensive line is this year. I’m not saying that it wasn’t in the past few years, but they know that Zack and Hutch are going to clear a way for them. For sure, getting that push initially is big.” Starter: Rico Dowdle Dowdle, a 6-foot, 215-pound junior, should be back at full strength after suffering a broken leg against Tennessee last season. He played in just eight games (four starts), but unexpectedly played in the Gamecocks’ Outback Bowl victory over Michigan and rushed for 45 yards and a touchdown on six carries. But he also missed much of this spring with a hamstring injury and head coach Will Muschamp has challenged him to work on his conditioning and hydration to help him stay healthy this season. 2018 preseason practice schedule Dowdle was the Gamecocks’ third-leading rusher last season, but he should jump to No. 1 if he’s fully healthy and gets more playing time. Backups: A.J. Turner, Ty’Son Williams, Mon Denson Turner, a 5-10, 195-pound junior, had the most carries (99) and rushing yards (531) for the Gamecocks last season. He also caught 18 passes for 117 yards. Turner had just 20 carries for 60 yards through the first six games but rushed 78 times for 471 yards (six per carry) over the final seven games after Dowdle was injured. He’s also a special teams ace. Williams (6-0, 219) was second on the team in carries (95) and rushing yards (471) last year, but the former North Carolina transfer failed to show consistency. His yard totals from last season, in order: 0, 78, 0, 95, 73, 35, 47, 13, 8, DNP, 58, 53, 11. A.J. Turner If he’s healthy and finds a niche in the crowded backfield, Williams can finally thrive in garnet and black. Denson (5-10, 212) didn’t play in the Gamecocks’ first five games last season, but broke out with eight rushes for 25 yards against Arkansas. He also had 13 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns against Florida. Expect the power back to find a role in short-yardage this season. Reserves: Lavonte Valentine (freshman), Deshaun Fenwick (freshman), Caleb Kinlaw (redshirt-senior), Slade Carroll (redshirt-freshman). Valentine — who’s birthday is actually six days after Valentine’s Day — enrolled at Carolina in January, but the Florida-native missed the spring while recovering from knee surgery from an injury he sustained in high school. He was ranked as the No. 18 all-purpose back prospect and the 95th-best player from the state of Florida in 247’s national composite rankings. Rivals ranked him as the 85th-best player in Florida and the 26th-best running back in the nation. He’s expected to be cleared during Fall camp. “He’s just got to strengthen his knee,” Muschamp said. Fenwick, who enrolled at Carolina in January and went through spring practice, was ranked the No. 15 all-purpose back and the 86th-best player in Florida by 247’s national composite rankings. Rivals ranked him as the 99th-best player in the Sunshine State and the 32nd-best running back in the nation. In the Gamecocks’ crowded backfield, Fenwick will have to make his mark on special teams.
  10. Position Preview: With Wonnum, Kinlaw, D-Line poised for big year; developing depth key July 31, 2018 Entering the 2017 season, the defensive line was a huge question mark for South Carolina. But with three seniors leading the way, the front seven was determined to step up and prove the doubters wrong. They did, helping Carolina's bend-but-don't break defense hold opponents to just 20.7 points per game, fifth-best in the SEC and 25th in the nation. With seniors Taylor Stallworth and Dante Sawyer leading the way, the Gamecocks were markably improved against the run, holding opponents to 141.1 yards per game, the sixth-best mark in the SEC. Now they must replace three key seniors and prove they can do it again. More Position Previews: QB | WR With three returning starters and a host of young players — some who gained valuable experience last year — the D-Line should be even better in 2018. "This defensive line, we are fast and physical. We are going to do some good things this year," defensive end D.J. Wonnum said. "I feel really good about the first group that we are going to roll out there and I think we have recruited well," head coach Will Muschamp added. "The young players are talented, they haven't played so we have to get them game ready by September." The Starters The Gamecocks had one of the best defensive ends in the SEC last year in Wonnum, a two-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week. The junior from Stone Mountain, Ga. was fourth on the team with 57 tackles and led the team with six sacks and 13 tackles for loss. He also broke up five passes and blocked a kick. Muschamp expects even bigger things out of the bigger, stronger Wonnum. "D.J. is as good a young man as you will meet," he said. "He's very consistent in everything he does in life, off the field, football, in the meeting room, in the weight room. You know exactly what you are going to get every single day with D.J. Wonnum." The other defensive end will be manned by junior Keir Thomas, who moved into the starting lineup in Week 3 last year and never relinquished the position. Thomas, who can play inside or outside, had 38 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year. One starter at defensive tackle will be Javon Kinlaw, one of the Gamecocks' biggest and most exciting players. The 300-pound junior from Charleston lost 40 pounds from the start of training camp to the end of the season and became one of Carolina's most impactful players. Kinlaw, who started 10 games, made just 20 tackles but his size and strength inside allowed him to take on multiple blockers, allowing players like Thomas and Wonnum to make plays on the edge. He is expected to be a force again in the middle. "He played OK for us in the beginning of the season, played his way into shape, got his body right as the year went on and was very good defensive tackle in our league in the latter part of the season," Muschamp said. "And his progress, to me, is continuing to trend that way going into this year. … We are expecting him to have the type of year we need him to have." Junior Kobe Smith (6-2, 293) is projected to start at the other defensive tackle spot entering training camp but could be challenged by several young players. The Backups Depth is critical on the defensive line and developing a strong second until will be a huge emphasis in training camp. Fortunately, the Gamecocks were able to develop some quality backups last season, especially on the edge. Thomas and Wonnum will be backed by sophomore Aaron Sterling and junior Shameik Blackshear, while sophomore Brad Johnson and junior Daniel Fennell should see time at end and the pass-rushing BUCK position. The highly recruited Blackshear could made a big impact after battling injuries his entire career. He impressed coaches in the spring and says he's ready for the challenge. "I feel like this is the season for me," he said. "I get up in the morning, going to practice, I'm like, 'I am going to be great today.' I'm going to be great every day from here on out." Six freshmen who could play key roles A big key is finding depth in the middle behind Kinlaw and Smith. Those spots are likely to be filled by freshmen. Highly recruited freshman Rick Sandidge, the No. 2-rated defensive tackle in the country by Rivals, is expected to push for playing time in the middle along with fellow freshman Jesus Gibbs, junior-college transfer Jabari Ellis and redshirt freshman M.J. Webb. Freshmen Kingsley "J.J." Enagbare and Tyreek Johnson were both impressive in the spring and could challenge for playing time both inside and outside. "All those guys athletically move around well, they retain information well, they run well, they have good strength," Muschamp said. "We will find out in camp how well they can play."
  11. Position Preview: Veteran O-Line expected to make big push in new offense July 31, 2018 South Carolina has the quarterback and skill position players to have one of the most explosive offenses in the SEC this season. And with a new up-tempo system in place, it is expected to produce big results. But the biggest key will be up front, where the Gamecocks have an experienced and potentially powerful offensive line. "That’s where it all starts," quarterback Jake Bentley said. The Gamecocks struggled on offense last season (12th in the SEC) in part because of injuries to the offensive line, where starters Zack Bailey and Cory Helms missed three games each and the line was constantly in flux. Position Previews: QB | WR | RB | DL Despite the loss of two key seniors — Helms and center Alan Knott — South Carolina returns six players who have made starts on the offensive line. Head coach Will Muschamp calls it the best O-Line he's had at South Carolina. "We have six offensive lineman that I'm really excited about," he said. "But we do have a gap from the standpoint of I think we've recruited extremely well on the offensive line, but those young guys have not played. We have no experience past those six guys. We have got to figure out in training camp who will be seven, eight, nine and ten." Bentley likes the potential of the veteran group. "We’ve had some injuries that have come up in the past few years that have kind of hurt us," Bentley said. "But I think the guys this year have really worked their tails off in the weight room to be able to last the whole season and I think they will. It’s a great group of guys so far. In the spring, if you look at our run game, they were exponentially better." The Starters The six veterans have made a combined 71 starters, including Bailey who has 26 starts since his sophomore season. 2018 fall practice schedule Bailey (6-6, 314) will move back to his natural position at left guard after playing right tackle last year. Donell Stanely (6-3, 315), a fifth-year junior, played both guard spots last year but will move to center this year to replace Knott. Sophomore Sadarius Hutcherson (6-4, 310) was impressive in four starts last year and was the Gamecocks' best lineman in the spring. Senior Dennis Daley (6-6, 324) returns at left tackle while senior Blake Camper (6-8, 309), who has appeared in 31 games and made four starts, takes over at right tackle. Senior Malik Young (6-3, 287) has 13 career starts and provides depth at both tackle spots after playing on the defensive line in the spring. Muschamp and Bentley are particularly excited about the interior of the line, which has the experience and size to get a big push up front. "Getting Zack back inside is really going to help us," Muschamp said. "Sadarius Hutcherson was probably our best offensive lineman coming out of spring and Donell Stanley is the leader of our offensive line. We have made a lot of strength gains on our offensive line. Our guys are pushing. … I've been very pleased with the work ethic of those six guys." Bentley belives the experience of the group will help the Gamecock running game. "I think it’s not only going to help in our pass game protection-wise, but just running the ball," Bentley said. "Hutch don’t say a lot, but he says it through his actions on the field. He’s been one of the most impressive lineman that I’ve seen. Zack included, those guys are just two massive human beings that love hitting people. That’s what you want." The Backups South Carolina was able to withstand the injuries last year because it had quality depth in Hutcherson and Camper and sophomore Chandler Farrell (6-3, 290), who played in two games at center. Developing depth will be a huge emphasis in training camp. Farrell can back up Stanley at center while redshirt freshmen Eric Douglas (6-4, 298), Jordan Rhodes (6-4, 325) and Jordan Carty (6-7, 315) all appear ready to play after a year in the weight room. Muschamp was pleased with their progress in the spring. There are also five true freshmen who could make an impact. Maxwell Iyama (6-5, 310), Hank Manos (6-4, 289) and Wyatt Campbell (6-6, 305) all had good springs. Jovaughn Gwyn (6-2, 296) and Dylan Wonnum (6-5, 310), the brother of D.J. Wonnum, are both four-star recruits who joined the team this summer. Muschamp likes the size and athleticism of the freshmen but adds, "We need to get camp going and put pads on and see how quickly they are going to be able to help us, and they are going to need to."
  12. Position Preview: South Carolina has big shoes to fill after loss of TE Hayden Hurst Jul 30, 2018 South Carolina’s Garnet Thor has become Maryland’s Purple and Gold Thor. In other words, Hayden Hurst now plays tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, having been taken with the 25th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound void on the South Carolina roster provides an opportunity for redshirt-senior tight ends K.C. Crosby and Jacob August, who combined for 79 receiving yards last season, to take over the tight end position for the Gamecocks. “When you look at it, Jacob August, K.C. Crosby, those guys are going to have to step up and be big for us,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said. “They’ve had a really good offseason. Those are the guys that are going to have to pull their weight.” Hurst’s production (44 catches for 559 yards last season) may not trickle down to this year’s tight end group. Instead, it’s likely those catches and yards go to the receiver position, where Deebo Samuel returns and sophomores Shi Smith and OrTre Smith look to expand on impressive rookie campaigns. But Crosby and others are expected to have a role in the new up-tempo offense. The Starter Crosby (6-1, 229) shared the Joe Morrison Offensive Player of the Spring award with right guard Sadarius Hutcherson, so he should be in the lead for the starting tight end job. Crosby thrived as a redshirt-sophomore in 2016 (nine starts, 23 catches for 217 yards, tied for the team lead with four touchdown catches), but took a back seat to Hurst last year before suffering an injury. “K.C. probably had one of the better springs of any of our offensive players,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “I think what we’re doing really fits him in terms of what we do. K.C. can block at the point of attack and is a really good receiver down the field.” Said Bentley, “[K.C. is] a sure-handed guy that’s going to do a lot for us this season.” Backups August (6-6, 252), who came to Carolina as a walk-on, earned a scholarship and has developed into a regular contributor for the Gamecocks, making seven starts among 31 career appearances over the past three seasons. He had six catches for 68 yards last season, including some clutch grabs to extend key drives. “Jake has worked his tail off this offseason,” Bentley said. “I think, in his mind, and one thing I’m really proud of him, he’s not trying to be Hayden. He knows he’s not Hayden. He doesn’t want to be Hayden. He wants to be Jacob August. And that’s going to do so much for him.” More: 10 stars who must shine for Gamecocks Then there’s Pollard (6-1, 235), who Muschamp said is in the best shape of his career at SC. He could see some time at tight end while playing mostly on special teams. Reserves Sophomore Evan Hinson, junior Kyle Markway and freshmen Will Register, Caleb Jenerette and Patrick Reedy provide depth but should see most of their playing time on special teams. Hinson, who started 17 games for the SC basketball team last season, did not participate in much of spring ball due to his basketball commitment. “[Evan is] running extremely well,” Muschamp said. “Athletically, he’s what we want at the position. We’ve got a lot of competition there, and we expect his role to continue to increase. “Kyle Markway is finally healthy and Will Register is a young player we are excited about.”
  13. This Gamecocks star was named one of the most underrated players in the country July 30, 2018 Gamecocks fans already know the name well. They knew when he was a four-star in-state recruit. They knew when he earned a starting spot before his freshman season. They knew when he opened his career with a highlight-reel catch and a 100-yard game. But some folks on the national level don’t, and that’s how he can be considered underrated. Athlon magazine named South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards one of the 50 most underrated players in the county. The Conway High School product has started every game he’s been healthy since he arrived on campus, 25 of 26 the past two seasons. Gamecocks fans already know the name well. They knew when he was a four-star in-state recruit. They knew when he earned a starting spot before his freshman season. They knew when he opened his career with a highlight-reel catch and a 100-yard game. But some folks on the national level don’t, and that’s how he can be considered underrated. Athlon magazine named South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards one of the 50 most underrated players in the county. The Conway High School product has started every game he’s been healthy since he arrived on campus, 25 of 26 the past two seasons. South Carolina will open the 2018 football season against Coastal Carolina at Noon on Sept. 1 in Williams-Brice Stadium. THE STATE
  14. 9 bold predictions for South Carolina’s 2018 football season July 30, 2018 South Carolina begins head coach Will Muschamp’s third season as head coach on Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium. Practice for 2018 begins Friday. Here are nine predictions about what might happen this season: Javon Kinlaw is playing his final season at South Carolina Apologies for starting off with a punch in the gut, but look at the bright side — this would mean the junior defensive tackle has a monster year in 2018. Kinlaw started 10 games last year despite showing up in the summer 40 pounds overweight. At 6-foot-6, 305 pounds, he seems to be in peak physical condition this summer and his combination of size and athleticism will make NFL teams salivate. Jake Bentley could be, too Arguments that Bentley didn’t make as big a jump as he might have from his freshman or sophomore season or that the junior quarterback needs to be more accurate are valid. Any argument that he’s not the best option at quarterback for the Gamecocks and that South Carolina should look hard at a freshman quarterback is absurd. Period. The 6-foot-4 junior could throw for more than 3,000 yards in a new faster offensive system and might consider an early NFL jump after that. T.J. Brunson will have a 100-tackle season The junior middle linebacker had 88 tackles last season and that was with tackling machine Skai Moore on the team. The Gamecocks defensive coaches have put a lot of responsibility on Brunson’s shoulders this season, on and off the field. They praised how he handled it the spring. Moore had 111 tackles in 2015. That’s the only triple-digit tackle season at South Carolina since Jasper Brinkley had 107 in 2006. Jamyest Williams will lead team in interceptions Moving the sophomore defensive back from nickel back to safety speaks to the lack of confidence South Carolina has in its secondary depth, but the bright side could be that it allows Williams more flexibility to show off his ball skills. The Gamecocks lost a lot of players from last year’s team who had a knack for getting turnovers, which was one of Williams’ best traits as a high school prospect. It has been 13 years since a Gamecock had more than four interceptions in a season. A.J. Turner will lead the team in rushing Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams have shown enough flashes of talent that South Carolina fans and coaches really, really want one of them to break out of the running back pack and take a firm hold on the starting job. Instead, steady 195-pound junior A.J. Turner keeps getting the most important carries. Turner led South Carolina with 531 rushing yards last year. The Gamecocks will win nine games South Carolina will be big favorites in two games — Coastal Carolina and Marshall — and big underdogs in two — Georgia and Clemson. That leaves eight games on the regular season schedule that can be considered toss-ups at worst. Winning all of those might be a tall task, but winning six of eight would give South Carolina a chance to get to nine wins in a bowl game. That would give Will Muschamp 24 wins in his first three seasons. South Carolina will average more than 25 points per game That might not seem all that bold, but it would be the first time since 2014 that the Gamecocks have done that. The old trope that defense wins championships just isn’t true in college football at the moment. Last year’s CFB Playoff final four – Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma — all averaged more than 33 points per game last year. Defense might win nine games. It takes an offense to win a championship. Aaron Sterling will lead the team in sacks D.J. Wonnum led the team with six sacks a year ago and will get all the preseason attention, but Sterling shouldn’t be overlooked. The 6-foot-1, 245-pound sophomore is terribly undersized to be playing on the defensive line in the SEC, but he’s productive nonetheless. He had two sacks last year as a true freshman and could be line for a big jump in production this year. The Gamecocks will finish in the Top 25 South Carolina hasn’t finished a season ranked since following the 2013 season. The Gamecocks haven’t been ranked at all since the fifth week of the 2014 season. It’s possible that USC will be a preseason Top 25 team in the Associated Press poll (which the school uses as its official measuring stick), but it’s more likely that it will be on the list when the season ends.
  15. 2018 Opponent Preview: Coastal Carolina The Chanticleers are having a rough go of life in the FBS so far, but could take a meaningful step forward this season July 27, 2018 For the first time since 2011, the South Carolina Gamecocks will open their football season against an opponent that is not an SEC or ACC foe. On Sept. 1, the Gamecocks instead play host to the in-state Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, a newly-minted Sun Belt team that has completed their two-year transition to the FBS ranks. In the first of our opponent previews, here’s an initial look at what the Chants bring to the table in 2018. Last meeting: First, a little bit of series history. In their only prior date, the Gamecocks and Chants last squared off in 2013, when a loaded South Carolina squad annihilated then-FCS Coastal to the tune of a 70-10 beatdown. It’s one of the few times in recent memory we’ve seen the Gamecocks take a team apart in such astonishing fashion, so it’s not terribly surprising CCU stayed away from Columbia for five years. Last season: Like most programs that make this transition, Coastal’s had an unkind introduction to life in the FBS. As a perennial contender in the Big South Conference and the owners of a four-year FCS playoff streak from 2012-15, the Chants were poised to make the leap. Following the NCAA’s transition plan, Coastal completed a 10-2 season as an FCS independent before officially joining the Sun Belt in 2017. The Chants went 3-9 (2-6 in conference), picking up victories against UMass, Idaho, and Georgia Southern. Notably, Coastal hung in there in a wild 39-38 defeat to Arkansas, and three of their losses were similarly competitive; they were really only overwhelmed against Western Illinois, Texas State, and Troy. Most importantly, Coastal’s FBS debut was complicated by the abrupt medical leave of head coach Joe Moglia, who is largely responsible for building the Chants’ FCS success. Illness forced him to step aside before the 2017 season began, but now that he’s back, Coastal could be primed to take a step forward in 2018. Player to watch out for: Senior wide receiver Malcom Williams was named to the preseason Biletnikoff Award watch list after an impressive 2017 campaign in which he led the Chanticleers in receptions (43), receiving yards (793), and receiving touchdowns (seven) to garner a third-team All-Sun Belt selection. He also finished with 1,093 all-purpose yards and compiled 266 receiving yards for a single-game program record against Louisiana-Monroe. He managed to accomplish all of this with a small army of quarterbacks, as the Chants played six (!) signal-callers last season. Prognosis: Coastal seem likely to improve on its 10th-place finish in the Sun Belt, and with some better luck in close games and coach Moglia back, could challenge for its first bowl bid.
  16. 2018 Opponent Preview: Georgia The Bulldogs will be chasing the dragon after finally reaching heights their fans have been desperate for July 26, 2018 After an odd four-year scheduling blip, the South Carolina-Georgia game is back where it belongs: Week 2 of the college football season. This clash between SEC East rivals (or non-rivals, to hear the Bulldogs tell it) often serves as not just a measuring stick for each team, but also a de facto elimination game in the division race. With the Gamecocks looking to take another step forward and the Bulldogs fresh off a national championship appearance, the stakes are high, and CBS has already picked the contest for its 3:30 p.m. showcase. Last meeting: South Carolina never threatened to win, but also refused to let No. 2 Georgia bury it in a 24-10 loss in Athens. The ground game, on both sides of the ball, proved to be the Achilles’ heel — South Carolina’s rushing attack was nonexistent, and Georgia’s backfield predictably ran roughshod all over the Gamecocks. USC somehow hung in there despite getting massively outgained and nearly doubled up in time of possession, but the talent disparity was just too much to overcome. Last season: The Bulldogs finally reached the dazzling heights their fanbase has been clamoring for. In just coach Kirby Smart’s second year, Georgia won the SEC Championship en route to making its first College Football Playoff appearance. After the Bulldogs eliminated Oklahoma in an exhilarating overtime Rose Bowl win to reach the national title game, Alabama did what it does best and crushed their dreams. Nonetheless, it was the most exciting and dominant season of football Georgia has enjoyed in quite a while, and validated the decision to move on from former coach Mark Richt. Player to watch out for: The Bulldogs have to replace some elite talent from that special run, especially on defense, and offensive stalwarts like running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel aren’t there anymore. But fortunately for Georgia, quarterback Jake Fromm is only a sophomore. Fromm replaced incumbent starter Jacob Eason early last season when the latter suffered an injury, and the Bulldogs never looked back as their offense took off. With so many losses on defense, the offense could need to carry Georgia this season, and they’ll look for Fromm to take the next step in his development to do so. Five-star freshman Justin Fields is lurking, but barring an unforeseen circumstance like the one Eason suffered, it’s hard to picture anyone but Fromm leading the Bulldogs. Prognosis: Georgia appears to have carved out a place for itself in the small and elite group of programs that can realistically compete for College Football Playoff spots. The Bulldogs will roll out a roster lacking a lot of the veteran talent that powered them through 2017, but it’s hard to discount them too much with how incredible their recruiting has been. Georgia is overwhelmingly considered the SEC East favorite for good reason, and should be a threat to repeat as SEC champions. Whether the Bulldogs can get back to the playoff will likely come down to how quickly their young defense gets up to speed.
  17. Why Bryan McClendon expects a big year from Jake Bentley in 2018 July 26, 2018 South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley has been ahead of schedule since arriving in Columbia. Bentley left high school a year early to come play for the Gamecocks and was immediately thrown into the fire, starting seven games as a true freshman in 2016. He went 4-3 as a starter that year and experienced his share of tough moments playing against some of the best defenses in the country, including Florida and Clemson. Bentley gained a full year of experience last season, leading USC to nine wins, and as one of the more experienced quarterbacks in the conference he should be in for a big season in 2018. “Jake came in and he had to play really before he was ready,” Gamecocks offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said earlier this week in Greenville. “Any time a guy that’s played as much ball as he has and knows the important of preparing the right way and the week preparing up to that game, I think that’s something that really, really takes precedent over a lot of different things. No matter what, game experience is what gives guys the most barometer on exactly where you want to be, and he’s had a bunch of that.” Bentley struggled in his first season in losses at Florida and at Clemson, and the Gamecocks suffered a 24-10 loss at Georgia last year. But Bentley also now knows what it is like to play at some of the toughest venues in the nation. “Just having a guy at that position who comes and has played in a bunch of different areas, played in the swamp, played at Clemson, played at the University of Georgia, obviously not just there but we have a great crowd at the University of South Carolina also,” McClendon said. “But he’s played in a bunch of different arenas and knows what it’s like to go there and have to do well. He can be a calming force and never get too high, never get too low as far as situations go and in those arenas.” In addition to experience Bentley also has a better grasp of the playbook than he ever has before. McClendon, who is in his first year as South Carolina’s offensive coordinator, asked his quarterback to take another step as far as understanding USC’s offense this offseason. “The big challenge was making sure that playing that quarterback position he knows not only what he has to do but what everybody on offense has to do and how that affects people on defense and what they’re supposed to do to kind of counteract some of the stuff that we’re going to do,” McClendon said. “He has to learn a bunch just as far as taking a good grasp of everything, and he’s done that. Now it’s just time to take it to the next level and going out there and perfecting game plans and going out there and playing well on Saturdays.” THE STATE
  18. This true freshman ‘expected to play’ in 2018, Gamecocks assistant says July 25, 2018 South Carolina freshman tailback Deshaun Fenwick will have to do a lot to earn carries in the 2018 season. The team returns its top three backs from 2017 (the trio of A.J. Turner, Rico Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams), and the No. 4 back (Mon Denson), and even the No. 5 option (Wisconsin transfer Caleb Kinlaw, who got carries in garbage time). But USC’s staff is confident he’ll make it on the field this fall. “He’s expected to play,” Gamecocks running backs coach Bobby Bentley said. “It’s just up to him how much he plays and what his role will be.” If he’s really good, that could mean toting the ball, as he impressed the Gamecocks staff at points in spring. But at 6-foot-1 and a robust 225 pounds fresh out of high school, he might find another spot to contribute. “That’s the reason we signed him,” Bentley said. “You talk with coach (Coleman) Hutzler and you think what coach Hutzler likes at certain positions. I’m in those special teams meetings, and I think we could plug him in at this position, plug him in here on kickoff return, punt and punt block without a doubt.” Special teams coaches are always looking for big players who can run. That often means packing the groups with tall tight ends, but a tall running back would certainly do. At Braden River high school last season, he had 1,401 rushing yards and scored 17 total touchdowns. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry and 18.6 per reception. At his size, the biggest question is turning a big, athletic kid into a college-level running back. Bentley said that means developing more toughness, among other things. But he’s showed something so far. “I expect him to be a good player,” Bentley said. “That’s why we signed him.” THE STATE
  19. Position breakdown: Defensive line Coach Boom says D-Line is “key.” July 25, 2018 With the winding down of SEC Media Days, all focus shifts to the start of fall practice on August 3. There is plenty to be excited about in Columbia: Football is in the air and we are so close we can almost taste it. South Carolina looks primed and ready for another year of progression in year 3 of the Will Muschamp era. The key to another successful season starts on the defensive line according to Muschamp, and it’s hard to argue against that. We all know the offense is supposed to be the best Muschamp has had in his tenure for the Gamecocks. With eight players returning to the offensive side of the ball in 2018 and the new up-tempo offense of first year coordinator Bryan McClendon, along with getting maybe the most explosive play maker in the SEC back in Deebo Samuel, there is reason to be very excited about the look of the offense. The defense, however, is still thin in the secondary, especially at safety. The loss of Gamecock great Skai Moore means the opportunity is there for Sherrod Greene to break out in his sophomore season. But let’s face it, Carolina has struggled getting to the passer and that is something that has to improve if the Gamecocks are to take another step in the right direction. South Carolina had only 26 sacks last season, which was 11th in the SEC. For Carolina to have a special season this stat HAS to go up, and that starts with the big guys up front. When asked about the defense, coach Muschamp said, “Well I think number one we need to be more effective with four guys rushing the passer.” He also stated confidently, “We’ll be better up front than we’ve been and I think that’s the key to it.” D.J. Wonnum is looking to build off a 2017 season that saw him collect a team-leading six sacks. He needs help, though, and that could come from Javon Kinlaw. Muschamp sang his praises saying, “Javon was a guy that came on campus at about 340 pounds. He totally bought into our nutrition program. He’s down to about 300 pounds.” Shameik Blackshear is another on the line that has to step up and be productive with only six tackles in eight games last year. He did finish strong against Clemson, with three of his six tackles coming in the season finale. Keir Thomas is also looking to improve on his two sacks from last season. Thomas did make strides from year one to year two, nabbing 14 more tackles in only two starts in 2018. Kobe Smith has been very productive — in 24 games he has 17 tackles which makes him a big component in Travaris Robinson’s defense. For the Gamecocks to win in big games such as when the Georgia Bulldogs come to Williams-Brice Stadium on September 8 at 3:30 on CBS, pressure in the trenches will make the difference.
  20. 10 critical questions South Carolina must answer in 2018 Will Muschamp has built plenty of equity in his first two seasons in Columbia, and easily exceeded expectations in each campaign. Last season, Muschamp even pulled out a 9-4 record, including a bowl win over Michigan, despite losing playmaker Deebo Samuel before the end of the first month of the season. Now the Gamecocks have more talent, and are even viewed by some as a dark horse contender to win the SEC East this season. Samuel is back, along with linebacker D.J. Wonnum among a host of potential star players. The key will be to develop momentum to build off of the 9-win season, which was just the sixth time the Gamecocks won that many games or more. 1. How will Bryan McClendon add a different wrinkle to the offense? Kurt Roper’s two seasons at the helm of the offense produced numbers at or near the bottom of the league, (12th or 13th in the league in total offense) and Muschamp promoted wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon following the bowl win over Michigan. McClendon, a former Georgia assistant who was interim coach there following the Mark Richt departure, was credited by Muschamp as having the rapport with players and staff that spilled over to the entire organization. Before the injury to Samuel, McClendon led a unit that didn’t have a senior, yet delivered production from the likes of sophomore Bryan Edwards and freshmen OrTre Smith and Shi Smith. 2. Can they develop a running game? McClendon will try to do something Roper couldn’t: Develop a rushing offense that’s out of the SEC cellar. South Carolina was ranked 12th and 13th in rushing the past two seasons, and much of that is attributed to the injuries at running back. There’s plenty of experience in A.J. Turner, Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams and Mon Denson, but most of them have shown flashes and flameouts. They’ve had big performances in the regular season, or even in the spring game, but then suffered a prolonged injury, or didn’t receive a carry for several weeks. 3. How do they show improvement against their closest rivals? Except for Auburn, and possibly Michigan, few teams around the country are facing such a dramatic run of success as South Carolina’s most hated rivals, Clemson and Georgia. The Bulldogs will visit Columbia on Sept. 8, and that is a popular upset pick this summer, but short of an upset in either game, how would fans view progress against the Tigers and Bulldogs? South Carolina has lost the past three against Georgia, all by double digits. It has lost four consecutive to Clemson, three by double digits. Muschamp and Co. need to beat one of them soon, or fans will become increasingly restless. There is also the age-old debate of hypothetically going 10-2, but the losses coming against Clemson and Georgia, is that still a successful season in some fans’ minds? 4. Can they take advantage of a favorable schedule? The Gamecocks don’t open the season against the likes of an SEC or an ACC opponent for the first time in recent memory, and are paired with Ole Miss and Texas A&M from the West, two teams with coaches in the first year or permanent position. Even without an upset against Georgia or Clemson, that still offers a path to 10 wins. Road games against Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Florida aren’t exactly the toughest in the SEC. Because of that, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for the Gamecocks to be favored in 10 games. 5. Can Jake Bentley become an elite SEC quarterback? Bentley was fourth in the SEC in passing yards per game last season, but is often listed below other top SEC quarterbacks on preseason lists, typically behind Jarrett Stidham, Drew Lock, Tua Tagovailoa and Nick Fitzgerald. Yet Bentley has more SEC experience than most of them. Regardless, Bentley is the most experienced and established starter for the Gamecocks in several years. He has struggled somewhat with overthrowing receivers, and while he’s expected to turn a corner into the next level of South Carolina and SEC greats, he has struggled to make that step. With McClendon and new quarterbacks coach Dan Werner, Bentley will try to improve on the kind of stats that saw him last season tie for fourth in the SEC with 18 TD passes but throw the second-most interceptions (12). He needs seven wins to become the sixth quarterback in school history to win 20 games. That list includes Connor Shaw (27), Todd Ellis (24), Garry Harper (20), Stephen Garcia (20) and Steve Taneyhill (20). 6. How concerning are the questions in the secondary? Giving up several big plays in the spring game is one thing, but Gamecocks fans hope that’s not a sign of more trouble ahead. The secondary is one of the most unproven units on the team, and coaches no doubt would have preferred to keep Jamyest Williams at cornerback instead of moving him to safety. Steven Montac is the only proven safety in the backfield. News only got worse in late June when Javon Charleston was charged with assault, second-degree battery and first-degree burglary, and subsequently suspended. 7. Will the defensive line produce a difference maker? The Gamecocks haven’t had a player with a double-digit sacks since Jadeveon Clowney in 2012 (12), but they could have a key player there in Javon Kinlaw, at least to disrupt backfields. The 6-6, 300-pound JUCO transfer showed potential against Michigan, with a forced fumble and recovered fumble, which led to the win. Kinlaw also blocked a field goal attempt against Missouri, and overall had 20 tackles including two for loss. 8. How will they replace Skai Moore? Speaking of key players on defense, there’s a challenge of replacing an all-time great in linebacker Skai Moore, who led the team in tackles four seasons despite suffering a neck injury in the middle of his career. Perhaps most notably, Moore tied the program’s all-time record with 14 interceptions. T.J. Brunson, a junior, is considered the next in line at linebacker. Brunson last season was second on the team with 88 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and tied for the SEC lead — was fourth nationally — with 3 fumble recoveries. 9. How will they replace Hayden Hurst? The Gamecocks’ second-leading pass catcher the past two seasons, Hurst was a reliable target at tight end, and the Baltimore Ravens made him the 25th overall pick in the NFL Draft. The expected replacement is K.C. Crosby, but he has struggled with injuries, and his best season was 2016 with 23 catches for 217 yards and 4 touchdowns. Two of his other three seasons were shortened by injury, including last year when he broke a leg against Arkansas. Outside of 2016, he totaled 2 catches for 11 yards without a touchdown. 10. Will early enrollee QB Dakereon Joyner see the field? The newcomer showed some potential in the spring game with his scrambling ability, and found OrTre Smith with a 25-yard pass. But overall, he was 1-for-5 for with an interception, was sacked 3 times, and showed he has talent but is still very raw. That gave way to an offseason conversation from the likes of ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill, who suggested Joyner should move to another position, and even compared him to former Florida star Percy Harvin. https://twitter.com/PopeProduces/status/991673112386310145 At the very least, South Carolina coaches have admitted that there could be a special package developed for Joyner as he adjusts to the college level, and they remain committed, at least in the short-term for giving him a go at QB.
  21. Gamecocks biggest offensive change? It may not be Deebo or McClendon July 25, 2018 South Carolina fans might be excited about the Gamecocks’ 2018 offense because senior wide receiver Deebo Samuel is back in the roster. They might be excited about the offense because of new offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and the promise of a more up-tempo attack. Those are both legitimate reasons for optimism, but they might not be the most important offensive change of the offseason. The change that might affect South Carolina more than any is not sexy; it may not even be noticeable for the casual fan, but don’t underestimate the reworked interior of the Gamecocks offensive line. Barring preseason injuries, South Carolina will start 6-foot-6, 314-pound Zack Bailey and 6-foot-4, 310-pound Sadarius Hutcherson at guard, and the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Donell Stanley at center. Compare that to last year’s interior line: Stanley and 6-foot-4, 309-pound Cory Helms at guard, and 6-foot-4, 285-pound Alan Knott at center, and don’t forget the fact that Helms played most of his games on an injured ankle and Knott played below his maximum strength numbers because of an offseason injury that cost him an entire offseason. It has been several years since the interior of South Carolina’s offensive line has cleared much room for the team’s bread-and-butter inside zone running game. Stanley, Hutcherson and Bailey give reason to believe that will change this year. Not only does Stanley feature 30 more pounds than Knott, but he’s taken to the center position like a natural. “Donell’s awesome,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “He’s so smart.” Bailey, who played tackle last season, has long been considered the team’s best offensive lineman, but Hutcherson was the team’s most impressive offensive lineman this spring, and Bentley referred to the pair as “just two massive human beings that love hitting people.” This all may seem like a small change. It is not. The Gamecocks have not had an adequate running game for a while now. If they can be even a good running team this year, that changes the offense as much as Samuel’s addition or the new system. “That double team has to get that defensive tackle out of there for the inside zone to go,” Bentley said. “Having those guys in there and getting that push, I know the running backs are excited about it. The running backs are excited to show what they can do because they know the offensive line is so good. I’m not saying they weren’t last year, but they know Zack and Hutch are going to clear a way for them. For sure getting that push initially is big.”
  22. 2018 Opponent Preview: Marshall armchairallamericans.com July 24, 2018 The Gamecocks open up the 2018 season with three straight home games. They finish off the homestand against the Thundering Herd of Marshall who are coming off of an 8-5 season in 2017 OPPONENT: Marshall Thundering Herd WHEN: Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 7:30 PM EST WHERE: Williams Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Marshall leads 1-0 LAST MEETING: September 9, 1998 – Marshall defeated South Carolina 24-21 in Williams Brice Stadium 2017 RECORD: 8-5 overall (4-4 in C-USA) Head Coach… Doc Holliday (not the American gambler, gunfighter and dentist) is going into his 9th season with Marshall. He is 61-42 overall and 5-0 in bowl games. Marshall is 0-7 against top 25 teams in his nine years and 3-10 against power five teams. He has served as an assistant coach at West Virginia, NC State and Florida, before getting his first head coaching gig with Marshall. Returning Starters… OFFENSE (9) WR, Tyre Brady (6-3, 201) Junior RB, Tyler King (5-11, 200) Sophomore WR, Marcell Williams (5-10, 183) Senior WR, Willie Johnson (6-0, 176) Sophomore C, Levi Brown (6-4, 300) Junior RG, Nathaniel Devers (6-3, 290) Senior LG, Jordan Dowrey (6-1, 295) Senior RT, Tarik Adams (6-3, 300) Sophomore LT, Will Ulmer (6-5, 300) Sophomore DEFENSE (9) DT, Ryan Bee (6-7, 282) Senior NT, Channing Hames (6-5, 260) Junior DE, Juwon Young (6-2, 245) Junior WLB, Chase Hancock (6-2, 221) Senior MLB, Frankie Hernandez (6-2, 221) Senior SLB, Artis Johnson (6-1, 220) Senior CB, Chris Jackson (6-0, 179) Sophomore SS, Malik Gant (6-2, 190) Junior FS, Brandon Drayton (6-3, 185) Sophomore How did they fare in 2017? The Thundering Herd finished off the 2017 season with an 8-5 overall record and a 31-28 win over Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl. They lost quarterback, Chase Litton, to declaring for the NFL Draft early. The only other offensive player they lost was tight end Ryan Yurachek. The offense averaged 26.7 points per game in 2017. On defense they also return nine starters from a year ago including their leading tackler, Chase Hancock, who totaled 128 total tackles, two sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and seven pass break-ups. In 2017, the Marshall defense only gave up 19.9 points per game (in 2016, they relinquished 35.3 ppg) and only surrendered 342 yards per game — their lowest total since 2005 when they only gave up 340.3 ypg. Best Returning Player… WR, Tyre Brady (6-3, 201) Senior Brady led the Herd in total receptions in 2017 with 62 receptions for 942 yards and eight touchdowns. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady received a 106.0 passer rating when targeted in 2017; [per route when targeted] on ‘Go’ routes he averaged a 101.0 passer rating, on ‘Hitch’ routes he averaged a 124.4 passer rating, on ‘Slant’ routes he averaged a 117.9 passer rating played his freshman season with the Miami Hurricanes Overall Outlook… Marshall returns a total of 18 starters from last year’s team and will look to build on an 8-5 season that followed a 3-9 season in 2016. They haven’t competed in a conference title game since 2014, when they defeated Louisiana Tech 26-23 to claim the Conference USA Championship and finished with a 13-1 overall record. It will be a big adjustment at the quarterback position this year after losing Chase Litton who took every snap under center last year. But with the starting running back and three starting wide receivers returning, it should help ease Alex Thomson into his new role as starting QB. The Herd’s three toughest games are at South Carolina in week three, home against NC State the following week, and home against Florida Atlantic in week eight. With much experience coming back, even with the loss of their former quarterback, Marshall has a great chance to compete for a CUSA title in 2018. 2018 SEASON PROJECTION: 8-4
  23. What would a week two win against UGA mean for South Carolina recruiting? armchairallamericans.com July 23, 2018 A week 2 win against UGA could propel Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks into elite levels of recruiting by showing South Carolina can beat their rivals. Something that has hurt Will Muschamp’s recruiting so far is the inability of his teams to beat Clemson or Georgia. Every Gamecock fan knows the importance of beating UGA and those dreadful Tigers. Muschamp has only been South Carolina’s coach for two years, but he is 0-4 against those teams and has been outscored 142-48. Of course, the majority of those points have come from back to back blowout losses to Clemson. Still, I wish those games against Clemson could’ve at least been respectable. When it comes to the Bulldogs, South Carolina lost in Will Muschamp’s first year at USC with Perry Orth as his starting quarterback. You can only put some blame on Muschamp with Orth as a starter and the rest of that “SEC” roster. Still, a 14-point loss to the Bulldogs isn’t that bad. Last season, with Jake Bentley at the helm of the team, South Carolina went down to Athens and put up a damn good fight against the Bulldogs but had another 14-point loss. Deebo Samuel wasn’t on the team, and this, along with other injuries, could be blamed for the loss, but a loss is a loss. For this year, this matchup has all the makings of a brawl. South Carolina will most likely be at full force with a nice warm-up game against the Chanticleers, unless any huge mishaps happen in training camp. Now, as far as affecting recruiting, the Gamecocks haven’t exactly done a stellar job against their prime competition in recruiting. Against the likes of Georgia, Clemson and Florida, USC is 1-5 in Will Muschamp’s short career in Columbia. For almost every blue-chip recruit in the South, Coach Boom and the staff will be in a dogfight with UGA, Florida and Clemson. You can’t expect recruits to want to come to your program if you can’t show a winning record against your biggest rivals. When it comes to the Bulldogs, South Carolina and UGA are almost always in numerous recruiting battles every cycle. For this current cycle, the two main battles are for Travon Walker and Warren McClendon. Georgia already has a 1-0 lead with McClendon recently committing. Travon Walker is to commit soon, and he’s considered a heavy lean towards Kirby Smart and Georgia. During the 2018 recruiting cycle, South Carolina did get some recruits over Georgia such as Dylan Wonnum, Rick Sandidge, and Josh Vann. Four out of the top six ranked recruits came out of the state of Georgia. This shows the importance that recruiting in Georgia, especially the Atlanta area, is for Will Muschamp. South Carolina’s best defensive player, DJ Wonnum, comes from Georgia and the ATL. Obviously, the loss of the 2018 recruits mentioned in the article above didn’t hurt the Bulldogs much considering they finished with the #1 ranked recruiting class that contained seven 5-star recruits and 13 top-100 players. For South Carolina to win these recruiting battles for top prospects in Georgia as well as recruiting battles against Georgia for prospects across the Country, South Carolina has to win on the football field. This obviously goes for schools like Clemson and Florida. A win this year could propel them into multiple wins on the recruiting trail. However, if a recruit is putting all of his cards into who wins the South Carolina-Georgia game then they really aren’t taking their recruiting process seriously, but a win against Georgia makes it so much easier for Will Muschamp to pitch the Gamecocks. It would just go to show that South Carolina can beat UGA with lesser talent. Just imagine what Will Muschamp could do with the kind of players he had at Florida. Just imagine what this program would transform into if we would beat and/or be competitive against UGA, Florida and Clemson every year.
  24. South Carolina getting ‘freak of an athlete’ in incoming lineman Jesus Gibbs July 23, 2018 It comes about seven seconds in, just before the screen turns to footage of run-stuffs and pancake blocks. Jesus Gibbs, the 6-foot-3, 283-pound soon-to-be South Carolina lineman, streaks free toward the end zone, looks over one shoulder and then the next – and finds the football as his feet stay in bounds. An ever-so-graceful touchdown for Potomac High School. “A catch that probably no one else on our team would ever make,” said Keith King. “And we had good receivers.” King is the recently retired coach of Potomac, a school located in Dumfries, Virginia. This past season he used Gibbs as his offensive guard, defensive tackle and – for one magical play that can be found at the beginning of Gibbs’ highlight reel – tight end. “One catch, one touchdown,” King said. Jesu.mp4 No, Gibbs wasn’t recruited to become Hayden Hurst’s replacement at USC. Coach Will Muschamp – for now anyway – has better options at the TE position. But don’t let that diminish the above example of Gibbs’ athleticism. The big man can move. “He’s a freak of an athlete,” King said. “He runs like a 4.7 40 (yard dash). He’s the most athletic big kid I’ve been around in a long time. He’s definitely quick enough to pull and get out in front of people. Extremely athletic. “Defensively, he’s explosive getting off the ball, capable of bringing down running backs. He’s just an athlete.” Gibbs committed to Carolina’s 2018 recruiting class last July, choosing the Gamecocks over the likes of Clemson, Virginia and Virginia Tech. The three-star prospect will begin his college career on defense. It’s there where he made all-region as a senior for Potomac. “I told him what’s going to separate him is his work ethic,” King said. “I said, ‘You’re going to go down there and work on the thing that the coaches tell you – your get-off, your hand placement, things like that.’” When Gibbs arrived at Potomac, he was low on playing experience and had a raw skill set.
  25. Jake Bentley’s place among SEC QBs: Elite player, room for growth — or both? July 22, 2018 ATLANTA - One former SEC quarterback thinks Jake Bentley will benefit from an offense where he has to think less and can play more instinctively. Another former SEC QB says Bentley is one of “the best pre-snap quarterbacks there is as far as his ability and knowledge.” Twenty games into the career of South Carolina’s starting quarterback, opinions are mixed on where Bentley fits into a crowded field of Southeastern Conference quarterbacks that includes Jarrett Stidham at Auburn, Drew Lock at Missouri, Nick Fitzgerald at Mississippi State, Jake Fromm at Georgia and Tua Tagovailoa at Alabama. “I love Jake,” said Jordan Rodgers, a former Vanderbilt quarterback who is now an SEC Network analyst. “Across the country, he might be one of the best pre-snap quarterbacks there is as far as his ability and knowledge of defenses and what to do and how to get his team in the right position. Jake Bentley, more than anybody I’ve been around, has that ‘it’ factor that raises the level of play of the people around him, that grit that you need in late game. “Is he the most talented arm? No, but he doesn’t need to be because of those other intangibles that you look for.” Bentley, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior, is 13-7 as South Carolina’s starter. Since taking over the job midway through the 2016 season, he has completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 4,214 yards, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. “He’s got a lot of talent, sometimes unrealized talent, and sometimes he’s ineffective,” CBS Sports analyst Barrett Sallee said. “I think Jake fits in as a guy who gets the job done, maybe not every single game, and I think that’s a problem, but I think that can be solved with a better offense.” Bentley’s first 20 starts came under offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper, who was fired following the 2017 regular season. Bentley has spent the offseason working under offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner. “I think Jake Bentley is going to be really well-served by the offense that McClendon is going to install, faster, a little less thinking, fewer options,” said former Alabama quarterback and ESPN analyst Greg McElroy. “He’s going to play more instinctively as opposed to a guy who is trying to analyze every situation.” McElroy studied Bentley last year in the season-opener against N.C. State and again versus Florida in Week 10 and was startled by the differences. In the N.C. State game, in which Bentley threw three touchdowns and one interception in a 35-28 win: “He played like a coach’s son, just great decisions, understood what South Carolina needed from him to win the game. It was a real testament to his maturity.” In the Florida game, in which Bentley threw three interceptions and no touchdowns in a 28-20 win: “The Florida game was the most jaw-dropping to me because that was the antithesis of who Jake Bentley has been. He was careless. He threw the ball in three-on-one coverage multiple times. It was odd. You look at his feet, they are all over the place. He’s got happy feet, he’s leaving the pocket early. He just didn’t trust his progressions. I don’t think he trusted the process of going through those progressions, and that happens. The good thing is he eventually got it rectified and played a little bit better. THE STATE

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