After playing one of the tougher schedules in the country outside the SEC West over the first six games, the Gamecocks finally get a breather against Furman. Even with the Gamecocks not playing good football right now, this game shouldn't be any trouble for USC, as Furman has played exceedingly poorly against FCS competition.
Still, Gamecocks fans should closely watch this game for indications regarding whether the off week was productive for a team that needs to play much better over the second half of the season if it wants to salvage the disaster that has happened so far. Here's what I'll be watching for.
3. Mike Matulis. Matoozles is slated to return to the field after injuring his knee during August camp. I'm eager to see how he plays. For all the attention given to the play of our skills positions guys, right guard play has arguably been a bigger liability for the Gamecocks offense. Given our defensive struggles, it's likely that we'll need to rely on our offense to win games, particularly against teams that will score tons of points like Auburn, and I'm hoping Matulis is the missing piece that will help our offense take the next step.
2. Connor Mitch. There's been no indication from the coaches that there is any sort of QB controversy brewing, but let's be honest; we've all been curious to see what Mitch can do, and tomorrow we'll get the chance. A good performance by Mitch might not mean the RS frosh will get meaningful snaps this season, but it would go a long way towards calming Gamecocks fans nerves regarding our QB situation for next season.
1. No lazy defensive mistakes. I don't think much should be made of the score tomorrow; Furman has an atrocious offense, so it won't take much for our defense to hold them to a low score, even if our backups get plenty of time on the field. I would, though, really like to see more discipline from our defense. When you watch footage of our defense against Kentucky's wildcat package, you see many examples of our guys being out of position, playing lazy and not swarming to the ball, and so forth. I'd like to see a new attitude tomorrow, a team that's focused and playing hard from whistle to whistle every down. Better effort and focus won't solve all Carolina's problems on defense, but it would make a difference that might net us a couple of victories down the stretch.