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Found 30 results

  1. Better or worse? Previewing South Carolina's offense in 2019 June 18, 2019 Previewing South Carolina's offense in 2019 Replacing the fireworks and contributions of Deebo Samuel will be difficult, but South Carolina has more than a few veteran returnees for the offense this season. Jake Bentley, of course, is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC, and he has several veteran targets back, including Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith. Did you know? SC averaged 30.1 PPG in 2018, almost 6 points more than 2017 and by far the most under Will Muschamp. South Carolina ranked No. 9 in the SEC in scoring in 2018, averaging 30.1 points per game, but struggled to find consistency. The Gamecocks looked strong against the likes of Missouri, Ole Miss and even Clemson, in a loss. But they stumbled against Georgia, Kentucky, and especially in the bowl game loss to Virginia. Bentley’s 14 interceptions were well-documented, and 6 of those came inside the 20-yard line. (READ FULL ARTICLE) SATURDAY DOWN SOUTH
  2. Gamecock DL Tyreek Johnson, where has he been? June 12, 2019 He is a player that fans really have put on the back burner, Because of an injury prone start to his college career. He is well worthy now to bring up and have a discussion about his future with Carolina To start let's say this, to begin with. He’s not a shiny new freshman. In fact, he finished up high school two years ago. A knee injury cost him the 2018 season, add in the shoulder injury that delayed his enrollment, Tyreek was a productive prospect and had some big potential. Even while not playing, he’s showed the USC staff a little something. “We were really excited about him,” Will Muschamp said this spring. “Unfortunately in a non-contact situation with the ACL, but he’s rehabbed extremely well off of it. He’s got his weight back up. He’s about up to 260, 265, 270 range. We are really excited about him.” That ACL tore early in spring practice of 2018. It kept him out all season, and the hangover from it limited him early in this year’s spring ball. At that size, the athletic Sumter product will stay at defensive tackle, where he moved soon after enrolling. He finished high school in 2017, following a season in which he posted 72 tackles, 22 for loss, with five sacks and six blocked kicks. After high school, a shoulder ailment forced a grayshirt, and the setback with his knee came only a few months after he arrived. He spent the 2017 fall semester at home, working out and staying big. When he returns to full action, he’ll have to contend with a rather loaded position group. USC has back its top four tacklers from last year: Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith, Rick Sandidge and Keir Thomas (who sometimes plays end). “He’s a heavy-handed guy, can hold the point (of attack),” Muschamp said. “Very athletic. A guy we’re really excited about.”
  3. If it happens how the Gamecocks could add Tavien Feaster to its roster that has reached the 25 scholarship limit for 2019 April 05, 2019 By the old “blueshirt” rule: ▪ The 85-scholarship limit — A team can only have that many players on scholarship at a given time. ▪ An initial counter limit — A player “counts” initially when they receive a scholarship or financial aid for the first time. A team has a limit of 25 of these per year, but there’s a good bit of flexibility for when players sign and enroll. Players who sign but don’t qualify academically don’t count toward this. ▪ The hard cap rule — A limit of 25 signees per year, with a bit of wiggle room in that mid-year enrollees can count forward or backward toward the current or previous class. This includes student-athletes who sign National Letters of Intent, an institutional offer of financial aid or sign a financial aid agreement for the first time. Gamecocks are two scholarships under the 85-man limit. So USC is good there. 1. The player cannot take an official visit but can take unofficial ones on his own dime. 2. The staff cannot have an “arranged, in-person, off-campus encounter” with the recruit or his family. (They can talk on the phone or in-person on campus.) 3. The staff cannot extend a written offer for financial aid or a letter of intent. Assuming everyone clears those hurdles, Feaster could join the team in August and, assuming the team has filled its last batch of initial counter spots, have his scholarship count ahead, making him functionally a part of the 2020 class. This is how the Gamecocks where able to enrollee Josh Belk and Jamel Cook to sign last summer. Information gathered from THE STATE to get the full article CLICK HERE TO VIEW
  4. South Carolina was surprisingly pass-heavy last season. What’s Will Muschamp’s take? May 21, 2019, | THE STATE It’s unclear how long it will take before Will Muschamp fully outruns the stigma of his offensive questions. Coming out of Florida, he’d been tagged as a defense-first, ground-and-pound coach. At South Carolina, two years of offensive struggles were wrapped up in that narrative. But South Carolina, both last year and the year before, had been surprisingly pass-heavy considering that reputation. Against FBS opposition, an even 100 teams ran the ball more often than the Gamecocks, only 48.3 percent of the time before accounting for sacks. “We were more successful throwing the football,” Muschamp said. “We did a much better job protecting the quarterback, going from 41 sacks to 23 sacks. And I think the RPOs have a lot to do with that. They can end up dictating your game.” That turn toward RPO reliance is important. Those plays allow a team to attack where the defense isn’t, but they also give the defense the ability to decide run or pass to a degree. (READ MORE)
  5. Gamecocks defensive back puts name in transfer portal May 20, 2019 South Carolina football safety Jonathan Gipson has hardly been on campus a full year. Now the Hoschton, Georgia product is in the NCAA transfer portal, USC confirmed Monday evening. Word leaked out Monday afternoon, first tweeted by the SEC Network’s Cole Cubelic.
  6. When USC’s staff has to use its veterans as eyes and ears. Simply put, ‘Players know’ May 20, 2019, | THE STATE Any college football staff, such as, say, South Carolina’s, has developed an eye for the finer points of their game. It comes with watching plays, watching players, watching movements and absorbing all the detail of what can be a hectic scene. But during this part of the year, they can’t watch their players work. (READ FULL ARTICLE)
  7. Paul Finebaum says South Carolina has the nation's toughest 2019 schedule May 07, 2019, | saturdaydownsouth.com There has been a lot made of South Carolina’s 2019 schedule, which many think is especially brutal. SEC West crossover games against Alabama and Texas A&M look daunting, as do games against SEC East foes Georgia and Florida. Add in a rivalry game against Clemson and nearly every week will be a battle for the Gamecocks. Recently, SEC Network host Paul Finebaum said he thinks the Gamecocks have the hardest schedule in the entire country (via 247Sports): Will the Gamecocks be strong enough to qualify for a bowl game this fall? They’ll start their 2019 quest against North Carolina on Saturday, Aug. 31.
  8. Preview 2019: South Carolina. 5 Things You Need To Know, Season Prediction April 29, 2019, | 2018 Record: 7-6 overall, 4-4 in SEC Head Coach: Will Muschamp. 4th year, 22-17 5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA OFFENSE – The offense was just okay at cranking up the yards, but there wasn’t enough of a scoring punch, the ground game was too light, and and the passing attack wasn’t efficient enough. With seven starters returning and decent depth at most spots, this is when the Gamecocks need to have an O that’s more than just along for the ride. – Jake Bentley has been an underappreciated SEC quarterback star. Okay, star might be a little bit of an overstatement, but he’s steady, he has improved, and he has had to carry the offense on his shoulders. If he can slow down on the interceptions, the passing game should do far more despite the loss of Deebo Samuel. – Bryan Edwards is a true No. 1 caliber receiver, and Shi Smith and OrTre Smith are more than just complementary targets. TE Kiel Pollard needs to be a bigger part of the attack after catching 15 passes last season. – And then there’s the ground game. Rico Dowdle is a decent veteran back who led the team with 654 yards, and there’s depth behind with seniors Mon Denson and AJ Turner reliable enough to count on. The backs will be fine, and the retooled and rebuild offensive line will be okay, but the depth is a bit thin up front. 4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEFENSE – The defense was able to get behind the line on a regular basis – coming up with an okay 26 tackles, but generated 80 tackles for loss – but the takeaways weren’t there and there were too many issues against the run. There should be more consistency from the line with a loaded group of tackles to play around with, and the pass rush should come from several spots with 23 of the 26 sacks returning. – The linebacking corps should be terrific. TJ Brunson is the team’s leading tackler in the middle, but there are plenty of other options to work into the inside. The outside combination of Sherrod Green and Daniel Fennell are veterans who should be far more consistent and more dangerous. – Can the secondary pick off a pass? Graduated CB Rashad Fenton came up with three interceptions. The rest of the Gamecocks came up with three. It’s not that the secondary was awful – it was more than fine – but it didn’t generate enough big plays. Jaycee Horn is a rising star at corner, but the depth isn’t there on the outside. The safeties have experience and players to fold into the mix around sophomore RJ Roderick, who’ll play more of a freelancing role in a nickel spot. 3. TOP SOUTH CAROLINA PLAYERS Best South Carolina Offensive Player QB Jake Bentley, Sr. The 6-4, 220-pound senior only seems like he’s been around since the Lou Holtz era. He’s got the size and the arm, but now he needs his three years of starting experience to translate into fewer mistakes. He’ll hit well over 60% of his passes, he’ll push the ball deep with a good receiving corps to work with, and he’ll be the coolest guy in the room in a few clutch spots, but the interceptions have got to slow down after giving away 14 last year and 30 in his career. 2. WR Bryan Edwards, Sr. 3. WR Shi Smith, Jr. 4. QB Ryan Hilinski, Fr. 5. TE Kiel Pollard, Sr. Best South Carolina Defensive Player LB TJ Brunson, Sr. There are other excellent options in the linebacking corps, and there has to be room and time on the inside for freshman Derek Boykins and sophomore Ernest Jones, but the 6-1, 235-pound Brunson is the leading returning star. A great leader with good toughness, he came up with a team-high 106 tackles with four sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. One of the only bright spots in the bowl loss to Virginia, he made 12 tackles, and went through a three-game midseason stretch with 45 stops. 2. DE DJ Wonnum, Sr. 3. P Joseph Charlton, Sr. 4. LB Sherrod Greene, Jr. 5. S RJ Roderick, Soph. 2. KEYS TO THE SEASON Biggest Key To The South Carolina Offense Good things happen when the running game works. Jake Bentley and the passing game will be where the bread is buttered, but when the Gamecocks can run, they win. They ran for 15 touchdowns last season, but they were bunched in six games, going 5-1 when they scored on the ground and 2-5 when they didn’t. They went 4-0 when running for 200 yards or more, and was 7-2 when hitting the 100-yard mark. In the three years under Will Muschamp, USC is 7-0 when running for two bills. Biggest Key To The South Carolina Defense Where are the takeaways? The South Carolina offense is fine, and the defense is good, but this whole puzzle of Gamecock football doesn’t come together under Muschamp unless the turnover margin is on the right side. Takeaways weren’t a problem in his first two seasons, but last year the Gamecocks picked off just six passes – one in the last eight games – and forced a mere 16 turnovers overall. Key Player To A Successful Season OT Sadarius Hutcherson, Jr. The offensive line did an okay job overall. It wasn’t a force, but it wasn’t a glaring issue, either. Now the front five is undergoing some remodeling, and it starts with the 6-4, 312-pound Hutcherson moving from right guard over to left tackle … maybe. It’ll be a work in progress in fall camp, but if Hutcherson can hold down the gig, all of a sudden, the other four spots look strong. Key Game To The South Carolina Season at Missouri, Sept. 21 The Gamecocks start the SEC season against Alabama, and they have to go do Georgia in mid-October. They’ll be good, but it’ll take a big upset to win either of those two games. Lose on the road at Mizzou – USC has won three in a row in the series, including a 37-35 last year at home – and there’s a big, big problem. With a road game at Texas A&M and home date against Clemson to deal with, too, the Gamecocks have to win the 50/50 games like this. – South Carolina Schedule Breakdown & Analysis 2018 South Carolina Fun Stats – Time of Possession: Opponents 35:03 – South Carolina 24:57 – Red Zone Scores: Opponents 51-of-62 (82%) – South Carolina 43-of-56 (77%) – Opponent 1st Quarter Scoring: 71 – Opponent 2nd Quarter Scoring 129 1. SOUTH CAROLINA WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN It’s unfortunate that South Carolina should have a few better team in several ways, and it should be the best and deepest squad yet under Will Muschamp, and there won’t be a whole lot to show for it. The Gamecocks have the veteran passer in Jake Bentley who’s been through all the SEC wars. They have a terrific receiving corps, a veteran backfield, and a rising, good-looking O line. The defensive front doesn’t have any household name stars, but it’s going to be terrific. The linebacking corps is deep, the secondary is promising, and the kicking game is among the best in the SEC. And then there’s the schedule. This is a ten-win team wrapped in a schedule that screams .500 with just one bad loss. Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 7 Yes, Alabama and Clemson are coming to Williams-Brice, but they’re still Alabama and Clemson. Florida and Kentucky are home games, too, but going to Georgia, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Missouri won’t be easy. Throw in the November dates against Vanderbilt and even Appalachian State – there’s no room for a brain cramp against either one – and the opener against North Carolina, and there are just enough decent battles to be annoying.
  9. This new Gamecock showed promise in spring. What set him up for that start April 22, 2019, | THE STATE Jaylen Nichols waited two years to finally join South Carolina football. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder was one of the earlier commits to South Carolina’s class. He was part of a strong program and a top team as a senior. And one factor that made him a Gamecock commit brought him home as a recruit. (MORE)
  10. ESPN’s FPI projects South Carolina football’s win total for 2019 April 17, 2019 ESPN’s FPI metric had South Carolina football in pretty high regard. But it’s not bullish on if that will translate to a big season. The efficiency number pegs the Gamecocks as the No. 18 team in the country, a jump from No. 35 at the end of last season. But that only shakes out to 6.1 projected wins. So much has already been said about the Gamecocks’ schedule, but ESPN has it as the hardest in the country. “Difficult slates abound across the SEC -- which boasts 10 of FPI’s top 20 teams -- and the Pac-12 due to aforementioned depth,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote. “The teams with the 10 most difficult schedules all play in one of the two conferences. At the top, South Carolina is followed by USC, Florida, Stanford and Georgia. The Crimson Tide rank 20th in strength of schedule.” South Carolina’s schedule features three of the four most likely teams to make the playoff in Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. The latter two are notable since only one can take a conference title. If USC were to win six games, it would mark the second season in a row in which South Carolina’s record slipped. Will Muschamp’s squad improved by three wins in each of his first two seasons. The neighborhood for the Gamecocks has grown rougher in recent years, and the once-every-6-years meeting with the Crimson Tide makes that more challenging. Clemson grew into a national power, as did Georgia. Both Florida and Texas A&M showed enough promise to be in the conversation for preseason top-10. Kentucky and Missouri have likewise been strong in recent seasons. According to an earlier version of the rankings, South Carolina is projected to have a top-15 quality offense and a defense in the top-35.
  11. Carolina vs Bama Game will be on CBS at 3:30. The following week Georgia vs Notre Dame 8:00pm on CBS.
  12. Spring game debut for LB Derek Boykins stands out with big play April 10, 2019 South Carolina football needed more big plays from its linebackers both last year and going into next year. The coaches have been clear on this, and the eye test backs it up. On Saturday, South Carolina’s newest linebacker delivered at least one moment that certainly matched the eye test. In the late going of the annual spring game, a Dakereon Joyner-led offensive group had made it all the way down to the goal line. The young quarterback was handing off to 235-pound tailback Kevin Harris with only a few yards to cover to finish off the drive. Then one of Harris’ freshman classmates stepped in. “Derek Boykins on the goal line, for a freshman, that was a heck of a play,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “To go up right there and light it up in the A-gap.” On second down, after Harris had bowled his way inside the 5 on first down, Boykins drove into Harris in the hole, working around a pair of defensive tackles out of position at the snap. On third down, he slipped past a double-teaming guard and stood the back up. On fourth down from the 1, Boykins stepped in, met Harris just behind the line of scrimmage and held him up for the stop. On the day, he had six tackles and a quarterback hurry. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound North Carolina product certainly looks the part of a college linebacker already. As a high school senior, he was productive with 117 tackles, six for loss, four sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and five QB hurries, while helping out here and there on offense. He did a little pass rushing, worked in coverage and impressed South Carolina’s staff through spring. “He’s a physical, downhill, heavy-handed kid, who can do a lot of different things,” linebackers coach Coleman Hutlzer said. “He played running back in high school He played tight end. He did a lot, Wildcat quarterback.” One thing he might not be doing in the short term is playing multiple spots. Muschamp said early in spring that Boykins would get some work at weakside/dime linebacker, a position that asks more in terms of coverage and playing in space. But a few weeks later, Hutzler said he’s sticking to middle linebacker. That matters because the most experienced Gamecocks linebacker is senior T.J. Brunson, a two-year starter and last year’s leading tackler. He missed the spring after surgery, giving sophomore Ernest Jones and Boykins more reps. Without delving into questions of if Brunson could be a candidate to move over or if Sherrod Greene can make a jump after an inconsistent freshman season, Boykins could at least go part of the way toward answering South Carolina’s depth issues. At times last season, Green and especially Brunson were playing a monstrous amount of snaps. Jones might help, as could Rosendo Louis, who played here and there as a freshman last season. Damani Staley took some steps, but Boykins showed upside and for the moment his position is locked in. “The mid-year transition for a linebacker is tough,” Hutzler said. “There is a lot mentally thrown on our guys. So he’s continuing to work through that.”
  13. Freshman Report: Spring game edition Good read from 247Sports South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and quarterback coach Dan Werner wanted to use Saturday’s spring game as an evaluation period for young quarterbacks competing for that backup position. While freshmen Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski got their work in, they weren’t the only freshmen Gamecocks that saw a lot of reps in front of 25,000 plus at Williams-Brice Stadium. Freshman linebacker Derek Boykins saw significant time on both the garnet and black defenses. Had the quarterbacks been live, he likely would have registered a couple sacks. A stat that did count was a fourth down tackle of fellow freshman Kevin Harris, who tried to punch it in on the goal line. Boykins stuffed him and crept into the offensive backfilled to give Muschamp an emphatic high five. The physical linebacker was a first-year player Muschamp pointed out postgame. (CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE)
  14. DEEBO SCORES ONCE MORE It’s tradition for a celebrity to come off the sideline and catch a touchdown pass at some point during the game, but Saturday’s guest was one that has plenty of experience scoring at Williams-Brice Stadium — recently graduated star receiver Deebo Samuel, who’s expected to be a high NFL Draft pick later this month. Samuel made his appearance in the third quarter, catching a 25-yard rainbow from his former QB, Jake Bentley. The two then met on the field for a leaping celebration. PARKER WHITE SURPRISE Just before halftime, the Gamecocks stopped play and lined up for a field goal attempt that junior Parker White drilled. A video then played on the big screen, announcing White, a former walk-on, had been placed on scholarship. His teammates then mobbed White in the middle of the field. In an era when videos of players earning scholarships consistently go viral, White said he had a faint suspicion he might get one eventually, but he said he didn’t expect it on this stage. JAY URICH’S 62-YARD SPRINT AND SCORE Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jay Urich hasn’t seen the field much in his time at South Carolina, and with a senior QB in Bentley and a pair of highly-touted prospects in Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski, it will be tough for him to ever see time at his listed position. But Urich proved Saturday he doesn’t need to be under center to make an impact, catching nine passes as wide receiver for 130 yards, highlighted by a screen he caught and took 62 yards, sprinting by most of the defense while doing it. JAMEL COOK’S BIG DAY Transfer Jamel Cook has struggled with consistency this spring, Muschamp told reporters after the game, but fans got to see the best the former Southern Cal player had to offer Saturday, as he recorded two pass breakups, three tackles and an interception on the goal line off Joyner. He also managed to lay a vicious hit on receiver Bailey Hart. BOYKINS’ GOAL LINE STUFF Freshman linebacker Derek Boykins had six tackles credited to him on the day, with half of them coming in one epic sequence in the red zone in the fourth quarter. With the offense marching and freshman running back Kevin Harris bulldozing through defenders, Boykins came up with three consecutive tackles inside the five-yard line, including one on the goal line to stuff Harris and force a turnover on downs. A.J. TURNER DOES DOUBLE-DUTY After running back A.J. Turner briefly switched to defensive back at the end of last season due to injuries in USC’s secondary, the possibility of him playing both ways had been discussed plenty through the offseason. Saturday provided the first chance to actually see it in action though, as Turner spent the first half on offense, not producing much on the ground but catching four passes for 38 yards out of the backfield. In the second half, he went to cornerback, where he posted a tackle and breakup in a solid if unspectacular showing. YOUNGSTERS DEBUT Saturday also marked the first time South Carolina fans got to see some of the team’s most highly touted freshmen in action. In particular, five-star defensive lineman Zacch Pickens and four-star quarterback Hilinski have been hyped since before they stepped on campus. Hilinski put together a solid day and continues to battle for the backup QB job, while Pickens was relatively quiet after a spring in which he battled injuries. Boykins, running back Kevin Harris and defensive lineman Joseph Anderson also got significant time on the field and impressed.
  15. What to watch out for in South Carolina’s spring football game April 06, 2019 WHO ACTUALLY PLAYS As with any spring, the Gamecocks are short on bodies. Half the freshmen aren’t enrolled. Plenty of the starters or potential starters are recovering from injuries. USC will be without Javon Kinlaw and T.J. Brunson. That’s before considering the likes of OrTre Smith, Jamyest Williams or Rico Dowdle who have all been banged up or limited this spring. Assuming the team stays with its first-team/second-team format, we might at least get a sense of where things are stacking up. ZACCH PICKENS’ DEBUT A spring game isn’t the best place for a defensive lineman, as his opportunities to tackle a quarterback tend to be limited (although USC’s backups will be live). That said, Pickens is a big curiosity as a five-star recruit, the highest-rated the program has had since Jadeveon Clowney. He’s got the size and ability to be an impact player in Year 1, and we get our first look at what he might be. THE NEWEST TAILBACK Yes, this list is heavy on the freshmen. Outside of them, much of the group has already held some kind of role in-season. Oh, and newcomer Kevin Harris got some social media buzz trampling over some defenders in video that leaked out online. Through spring, the early enrollee has been praised for his power, for how hard he is to tackle and been compared to at least one NFL player with a vehicular nickname. If he can truck a few backup linebackers, it would be worth taking a watch. THE BACKUP QBS, LED BY HILINSKI Going into any spring game, the top focus is going to be the quarterbacks if there’s an open competition or the backups because they’re so rarely seen. Jake Bentley is pretty much in line to start, but it will be the public debut of four-star freshman Ryan Hilinski. He, former four-star Dakereon Joyner and Jay Urich are battling for the No. 2 job. What order they go in and what they show might give an inkling as to who is making progress as the team prepares for the season after Bentley departs. WHO’S NEXT AT TIGHT END? Unless a defensive back just really shines (looking at you Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu), spring games are mostly about skill guys. South Carolina either knows what it has or will be missing key faces at receiver in running back, but tight end is a bit of a question mark. Kiel Pollard and Kyle Markway are the obvious heir apparents, as they got the most backup work last season. But Evan Hinson could be a factor as a play-maker, the staff mentioned Will Register a few times during the spring and early enrollee Traevon Kenion will see some action.
  16. Future will be on display in Saturday's spring game April 04, 2019 Much of the discussion from Will Muschamp this spring is restocking the roster with more players who can contribute across the field. The fourth-year South Carolina coach is looking for more competition that will lead to better depth and ultimately an upgrade in the program. There’s not much that has changed in relation to the backup quarterback position, though the practice and scrimmage snaps have been evenly spread between Dakereon Joyner, a redshirt freshman, true freshman Ryan Hilinski and redshirt sophomore Jay Urich. It’s one of the more talked about position battles this spring, but Muschamp admitted last week that it might not be decided until August training camp. However, he would prefer to decide before the season begins, he said. The Gamecocks will offer a glimpse into the development of each player at their Garnet and Black game at noon on Saturday. “Competition is what you need on your football team to create the kind of consistency you want to have,” Muschamp said. “We were a very inconsistent football team last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But to see the guys competing at a high level in a lot of areas on our football team is good, and we’ve got a lot more talent on our team than we’ve had.” There’s been “shining moments” for all three quarterbacks not named Jake Bentley, but Muschamp hasn’t named a clear No. 2. Muschamp said Bentley won’t play much Saturday, maybe a couple of series in each half. Saturday, for the most part, will belong to the backups. One area that has shown arguably the most dramatic improvement is in the secondary, a position that caused some concern last year, and has experienced several injuries, including to veteran Jamyest Williams, who is still not at 100 percent. But a host of players drew praise from Muschamp, including Israel Mukuamu, Jaycee Horn, R.J. Roderick and J.T. Ibe. The coaching staff feels comfortable with the versatility of players to be used at multiple positions, however, a freshman will need to step in, at least at nickel. “Those guys are playing really well,” Muschamp said. “To me competitive edge is a talent. Those guys like to compete. They like to practice. … I’ve been very pleased with where they’ve come as far as the spring is concerned and their development as a player.” Bentley has seen the confidence and even swagger, too, on defense. “You can definitely see it, and it definitely starts with the guys on the back end,” the quarterback said. “Kind of trickles its way through down to the defensive line. Everybody on defense has that confidence about them that they want to go win every play. That’s going to make our whole team better, definitely our team better on offense. Because Jaycee and Israel want me to throw at them every play, and it’s really great to see them come along and make plays.” As a way to combat depth issues, South Carolina has cross-trained several defensive backs, “so everyone gets a chance to understand their spot and how it all fits together,” said Kyle Krantz, a special teams assistant who also coaches nickelbacks and linebackers. Roderick, in particular, has made a smooth transition between safety and nickel. “I think he likes the physicality of being down there and the techniques and all the stuff he’s doing is the same as playing safety,” Krantz said. “We’re just moving him closer to the box.” Bentley’s SEC-leading interceptions might be magnified if that secondary finds traction, and it’s something to watch Saturday, even in a controlled environment. That’s the biggest area of improvement for one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC. Outside of Hilinski, blue-chip defensive line prospect Zacch Pickens will be one of the most watched players at the spring game, and he’s part of an improved defensive line that Muschamp said has gained valuable experience after playing a slew of true freshman last season. Joseph Anderson and Rick Sandidge were a couple other young players noted by Muschamp when he was candid in describing how true freshmen were overmatched last season along the defensive line that was short on depth. As several young players emerge, especially on defense, South Carolina returns a veteran wide receiver in Bryan Edwards, who understands his role as a leader. “It’s known in our room, I’ve got the most experience,” he said. “So it’s a leadership role I took on upon myself. Nobody really has to tell me you’re the guy. It’s pretty much well known in the locker room. Everybody knows that.”
  17. With one week left in spring, here’s how Gamecocks’ backup QB race is shaping up March 30, 2019 South Carolina has three more spring football practices remaining, and the Gamecocks still are looking for a backup quarterback. Redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner, sophomore Jay Urich and early enrollee freshman Ryan Hilinski all remain candidates for the job, USC head coach Will Muschamp said Saturday after the Gamecocks held their second scrimmage of the spring. South Carolina will hold its spring game April 6 in Williams-Brice Stadium, but Muschamp doesn’t expect that game to end the competition for the job. “We would like to make a decision in (fall) training camp because it’s hard to rep three when you’re getting ready for a game,” Muschamp said. “The number of reps those guys have gotten (this spring) is right at the same and all those guys have repped with our first group to give them the same opportunities.” Senior Jake Bentley, who has 32 of the team’s last 33 games, will be the Gamecocks’ starter this fall. Joyner, a former Mr. Football in the state, and Hilinski, the top No. 2 ranked pro-style high school quarterback in the country last year, are considered the frontrunners to be his top backup. Joyner, Hilinski and Urich have been “live” all spring and will continue to be in the spring game. That means, unlike Bentley, they can be tackled by the defense in practice. South Carolina defenders have been instructed to make firm contact with the young quarterbacks in the pocket but not tackle them all the way to the ground. Outside the pocket, the three young quarterbacks can be tackled to the ground. Bentley is completely off limits for the defense in order to preserve his health, but USC coaches want to see how their young players respond to live action. “Under duress, making decisions, ball security,” Muschamp said. “We have been thudding them in the pocket, and outside the pocket we have made them live.” Urich has also worked with some of the team’s special teams units this spring. “He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s a wonderful young man, and he’s going to help our football team,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very unselfish young man. He wants to help.”
  18. Video Mike Peterson plus story-lines four-star freshman lineman Joseph Anderson & he is a hard hitter safety R.J. Roderick March 28, 2019 (CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO AND STORY-LINES)
  19. South Carolina tailback Deshaun Fenwick talks maturing on the field of play March 26, 2019 When most fans think of South Carolina tailback Deshaun Fenwick, the first thing that comes to mind was the way he ran all over a hapless Chattanooga team in his first collegiate action. It was a strong debut considering how the staff had held him back, ensuring the 226-pound runner would get a redshirt season. But as his relative anonymity gave way to a 114-yard rushing performance, it overshadowed an area he admits he’d been lacking through most of the season. Call it focus, attitude or approach. “Last year, I probably played around a lot as a far as not being engaged every time I touch the ball, every time I’m on the field,” Fenwick said. He wasn’t on the field in games all that much — just two contests, in which he carried the ball 21 times. But his focus this offseason is his consistency, and he hopes he’s put one thing behind him. “Me personally, I just thought it was me being immature coming out of high school,” Fenwick said. “Not being ready and not taking everything seriously. Now I have an ‘everything matters’ mindset.” That’s something that can set in when a player is redshirting, not getting the payoff of taking the field for a game each week. Fenwick said he had to change his mindset, attitude and effort. He came to USC as a 6-foot-1, 222-pound tailback, a well-built man coming off a 1,400-yard season. With his size and speed combination, then-running backs coach Bobby Bentley said Fenwick was at worst expected to play on special teams. Instead, he was on the sideline for the first 10 games. His new position coach, Thomas Brown, sees a potentially powerful runner who can move the pile. But he has yet to see the consistency Fenwick is striving for. “He’s been up and down,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a lot of ability. “At times he’s his own worst enemy from a mental standpoint, but I think he’s coming along well.” Fenwick echoed that sentiment. He said he’s trying to learn off the limited film he got last year. He was going against a decent rush defense, granted in the late stages of a blowout, and he broke off a few long runs. He’s also been lobbying special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler for a chance to contribute there. At the moment, he’s battling for carries with a group that includes veteran Mon Denson, freshman Kevin Harris and senior part-time defender A.J. Turner. The group will get more crowded as Rico Dowdle returns from injury and Fenwick’s classmate Lavonte Valentine returns from track. As he looked back at the past year, Fenwick didn’t regret having a small role and saving the year of eligibility. “I recommend redshirting for almost anyone because it gets you ready for times like this,” Fenwick said. “When your team needs you and you’ve been working hard.” Now he aims to do that and do something simple. His coach saw him as not being the same player every day, and ironing that out is his chief goal. “Just being consistent and just getting better every single day,” Fenwick said. “And if I don’t get better every day, I’m just making it worse for myself.
  20. Here’s Thomas Brown’s plan for South Carolina’s running backs March 19, 2019 THE STATE It took six spring practices, but Thomas Brown finally got to see almost all his new running backs on the field Tuesday. Brown is South Carolina’s first-year running backs coach, but his first five practices he didn’t have a lot of running backs. Senior Rico Dowdle missed the first five practices with a groin injury, andsenior A.J. Turner was working as a cornerback. Dowdle “got back to some team stuff today so I think he’ll be fine,” Brown said. “From a competition standpoint, they all need work. I want to see those guys come out and compete every day and be consistent.” Dowdle has the most starting experience of any USC back with 19 starts. Last year, he had 674 yards and four touchdowns on 123 carries. In three years, he has 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns on 322 carries. “I thought Rico did a really good job of winning sometimes in one-on-one,” Brown said. “I thought he did a really good job of running behind his pads at times, struggled at times in the backfield from a receiving standpoint, but he’s a really good player.” Brown didn’t seem too concerned about Dowdle’s history of injuries. “He’s a running back. Running back is a hard spot to play and stay healthy if you play it the right way,” Brown said. “You get folded up so much it kind of just happens.” Turner returned to his regular tailback position at Tuesday’s practice. He has 1,322 career yards on 260 carries. Until Tuesday, senior Mon Denson, redshirt freshman Deshaun Fenwick and early enrollee Kevin Harris had been the only scholarship tailbacks available at practice. The only back missing now is redshirt freshman Lavonte Valentine, who is not participating in spring practice because he’s a member of the USC track team. Valentine, a sprinter for the Gamecocks, has had private meetings with Brown this spring. “I want to see him change his body more, develop into more of an all-around tailback,” Brown said. Brown wants all his tailbacks to focus on their pad level in spring practice. “I think they all played too high at times, which obviously affects the way you can make guys miss one-on-one and breaking tackles in the open field or running through contact at the line of scrimmage,” he said. Brown would like to find two backs to share carries at the top of South Carolina’s rotation and then “maybe a third guy to spell those guys,” but no one so far has separated himself in practice, he said. The Gamecocks were 12th in the SEC last year with 152.7 rushing yards per game. “This is not park ball where everybody gets a chance to play just because you’re on the team,” Brown said. “It’s about being able to separate yourself and you have to earn your right to play every single day. Whether you are an old guy or a young guy, it doesn’t matter.”
  21. What South Carolina’s coordinator sees as the most talented unit on the defense March 13, 2019 THE STATE South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will not admit he has enough depth up front on defense. He could have everyone returning from a group with a solid mix of experience and recruiting talent and be adding a four- and five-star recruit each, and still he will tell you this is not enough. He did as much last December, just before South Carolina’s bowl game. Now the group has changed a bit. Former blue chip lineman Shameik Blackshear moved on, as did four-star freshman Josh Belk. And yet, Muschamp’s righthand man, Travaris Robinson, is more than pleased with the group he’s got. “That’s our most talented unit,” Robinson said. “We’re finally at the point we have depth, and that’s the one thing we’ve been lacking the last three years. Recruited the right guys. We’ve got the right guys in the building and we’re excited about it.” The first USC team under the current staff was scraping for bodies up front. The second was solid, but reliant on its top line. Last year’s team opened with a pair of freshmen in the defensive tackle rotation and lost key pieces through much of the season. The team has four opening day starters back in D.J. Wonnum, Kobe Smith, Javon Kinlaw and Aaron Sterling. Beyond them, the cupboard includes former blue chip recruits in Brad Johnson, JJ Enagbare, Rick Sandidge and added a couple more in five-star Zacch Pickens and four-star Joseph Anderson. That’s quite a group on paper, and more than a few have had moments in the spotlight. The questions now are, how many can be brought to their potential and how can that anchor South Carolina’s defense? New line coach John Scott Jr. called that group the foundation, saying everything starts with them. Last season, USC was 101st nationally in how often it got to the quarterback and ranked 119th by allowing 53.1 percent of opponent rushes to go for 5 or more yards. But starting from that point means a lot of room for improvement. Will Muschamp wanted to make a change in terms of coaching that position and had already started by reaching out to Scott to replace Lance Thompson (who helped build that line) as early as the first weekend of December. Now that trove of talent is in new hands, and his coordinator likes what he’s seeing. “I’m excited about coach Scott,” Robinson said. “He’s done a great job of just bringing some of his thinking to our room and sometimes you need some fresh ideas. He was able to give us some of those.”
  22. Will South Carolina run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense? March 12, 2019 When South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said one of the reasons for hiring defensive line coach John Scott Jr. was Scott’s familiarity with the 3-4 defense, some Gamecocks fans wondered if that meant their team was switching up its style. Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson hopes not. “I think we have the talent to play four-man,” Robinson said during the first week of Gamecocks’ spring practice. “I don’t think we need much more three-man. I like what we’re doing from a four-down standpoint.” That doesn’t mean South Carolina won’t use some three-man fronts. Virtually every defense in the country uses principles of both throughout games and throughout seasons. The evolution of offenses demands it, Scott said. (A 4-3 uses four traditional defensive linemen and three linebackers, while a 3-4 flips the personnel.) “With what you are getting out of offenses now, you have to have the ability to do both,” Scott Jr. said. “Everybody does a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I think that’s where the game is going.” The Gamecocks “looked at some different things schematically that we want to look at and some things we know can help us moving forward with some opponents” during the break between the end of the season and start of spring, Muschamp said. South Carolina’s defensive coaches visited with NFL staffs in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, Robinson said. The Buccaneers’ defense is coordinated by Todd Bowles, the head coach of the New York Jets when Scott was an assistant coach there and a proponent of the 3-4 defense. “Three-4, 4-3, some call it ‘over’ and ‘under.’ We call it different [things] — they still line up the same,” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told reporters in January. “We’re going to attack. As long as our players attack — in today’s NFL, you’re in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, so you’re playing a four-man line. We’ll have odd-man lines, we’ll have four-man lines. That’s just schematics to me.” South Carolina’s coaches will take more visits after spring practice, Robinson said. “I would say we’ll probably be more four-man than three-man,” he said. “As an offense, it’s hard to prepare for both of those things, so that’s the reason why we do it. We aren’t going to change philosophies or what we think. That’s not going to happen, but there may be a couple of tweaks.”
  23. How DJ Swearinger is taking role in shaping young Gamecock safety March 06, 2019 THE STATE It meant a lot to current South Carolina safety R.J. Roderick when he received social media praise from former South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger. It still does, in fact. “That is constant motivation going back to that and looking at that,” Roderick said of the Twitter message Swearinger sent last year in response to a highlight of a big hit by Roderick. “I like it!! #GoonSquad,” Swearinger wrote on Twitter on Dec. 1 after Roderick posted a video highlight of his play. “It’s great, just to know that someone of his caliber is showing love,” Roderick said Wednesday. “It also drives me because I want to be where he’s at and I’m not there.” Swearinger is entering his seventh year in the NFL this fall after being selected in the second round in 2013. Roderick is entering his sophomore season at South Carolina after starting five games and recording 56 tackles as a true freshman last year. Roderick did not speak to the media last year due to head coach Will Muschamp’s rule barring freshmen from talking to reporters. When Roderick made his debut appearance Wednesday, he spoke about how much his relationship with Swearinger has meant to him. Roderick and Swearinger met before last season and now trade text messages, Roderick said. “He shed some light on some stuff for the future,” Roderick said. “The things that he told me I will carry on through my college career and my life.”
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