The South Carolina Gamecocks will play a real live football game tomorrow! Well, sort of. It's more like a scrimmage than a game. But there will be referees, and a score will be kept. There will be a winner and there will be a loser. So it's competition. It is something that Will Muschamp and his staff have preached all spring long: Compete. But before the game is played tomorrow, let's take some time to break down what we want to see.
Improved Quarterback Play: Last year was kind of a dud when it came to production out of our QB's. Connor Mitch failed to live up his hype, Lorenzo Nunez showed some flashes but got injured, and then Perry Orth did an honorable, yet unremarkable, job as QB1. With both Orth and Nunez out with injuries this spring, the two QB's to watch tomorrow will be Mitch and Brandon McIlwain. What I would like to see out there from those two guys is a command of the offense, leadership, and good decision making. As a QB, when you do those three things, the stats and the scoreboard will take care of itself.
A #2 Option at Wideout: I think it's understood that Deebo Samuel is, at the moment, our top receiving threat. Beyond him however it's kind of a mystery. We had several receivers leave the program this spring with DJ Neal, Shaq Davidson, and Jalen Christian all departing after the coaching change. So tomorrow we need to see something out of someone that says, "hey, I'm a reliable target. Throw me the ball." I, and many others, think Bryan Edwards could be that guy this year. But we'll have to see how his reconstructed knee holds up tomorrow and as we get closer to fall camp.
Let's Get Defensive: I stated in our Spring Football Preview that I didn't think the defense's learning curve would be as hard as the offense's. However, the more I listened to Muschamp and the rest of the coaching staff talk, the more I realized just how far away we are from being a truly strong defense, especially in regards to the secondary. Muschamp stated in his Spring Practice Press Conference that he was really concerned about the level of play that the secondary would produce this season. While Muschamp has said at times that they are getting better, and that he likes their effort, they are still not where he wants them to be. This isn't surprising, but it is a bit worrying. There are a few ways to cover up a poor secondary, but the front-7 better be elite.
Front-7: That leads me to my final point. I want to see what kind of improvement our front 7 has made under the tutelage of Lance Thompson, Coleman Hutzler, and Mike Peterson. With the secondary being a severe weakness, we will need the front 4 to be aggressive and harassing opposing QB's, and the linebackers will need to be solid in coverage and sound tacklers. These are two qualities we have not seen out of our DL and LB's the last two seasons. It will be interesting to see what kind of improvements have been made at the fundamental level. We need guys like Marquavius Lewis, Kelsey Griffin, Boosie Whitlow etc. to show they have made strides since the new coaching staff arrived in Columbia.
Did I miss anything? Do you have something or someone you will be watching specifically tomorrow? Let us know in the comments!