It’s been the talk of the midlands among football circles, Will South Carolina’s redone offense live up to its lofty expectations?
The Gamecocks offense failed to live up to the preseason hype a year ago, as injuries and inefficiencies made USC 12th in the SEC in scoring and total offense.
Following Kurt Roper’s firing, the promotion of Bryan McClendon to Offensive Coordinator and the addition of Quarterbacks Coach Dan Werner, South Carolina seems poised to fulfill the promise of 2017.
USC has a more experienced offensive line than they’ve had in three years under Will Muschamp, a stable of four running backs vying for time and a healthy Deebo Samuel who proved lethal in limited time through 2 1/2 games last season.
For quarterback Jake Bentley, who goes into his junior year and second full season as a starter, he believes he has his best blueprint for success since he’s been at South Carolina:
Samuel scored six touchdowns in just three games of action in 2017, before succumbing to a leg injury that prematurely ended his season. He says he’s fully back with no restrictions, and looks forward to supplanting himself among the SEC’s elite playmakers:
Despite missing South Carolina’s last ten games, Samuel tied for second on the team in scoring with 36 points ahead of the next highest receiver, Bryan Edwards. The rising junior from Conway took the brunt of the receiving attention after Samuel’s injury and elevated his own game to give the Gamecocks an additional threat.
Edwards this season has added more responsibilities including acting as the starting punt returner, a job he had at Conway High School. He says he’s eager to contribute in any way he can.
Lastly, South Carolina’s greatly tested its offensive line depth in 2017 with injuries to Cory Helms, Alan Knott, Malik Young and Zack Bailey all missing time with injuries. Bailey and Young are back along with the key contributors who took their places last year.
South Carolina will start second-year JUCO transfer Dennis Daley at left tackle alongside Bailey who moves back to his natural guard position. Donnell Stanley moves to center with Sadarius Hutcherson playing right guard after a productive freshman season. Blake Camper, who the Gamecocks see as their most improved lineman, rounds out the starting five at right tackle.
Young will serve as a super sub in front of backup center Chandler Farrell and freshmen Jordan Rhodes, Jovaughn Gwyn and Dylan Wonnum.
Bailey feels prepared to lead this resurgent offensive line unit:
South Carolina’s first opportunity to audition its new offense comes Saturday vs. Coastal Carolina at 12 PM on the SEC Network.