The Garnet and Black spring game is upon us, kicking off tomorrow at noon on the SEC Network. While there isn’t much that can be gleaned from a scrimmage, it’s still a chance for fans to see new players and schemes in action. Here are a few story lines to look out for as spring football comes to a close:
New quarterbacks coach Dan Werner made waves when he suggested incoming recruit Dakereon Joyner wouldn’t redshirt his freshman season, saying it was “definitely possible” he could play. Joyner, a four-star prospect who won South Carolina’s Mr. Football award, isn’t likely to unseat incumbent starter Jake Bentley, but perhaps the Gamecocks will roll out some special packages to take advantage of his particular skill set. We’ll also get our first look at Jay Urich out of Wren, who is an intriguing freshman in his own right.
The pace of the offense
When former offensive coordinator Kurt Roper came in with coach Will Muschamp, he claimed the Gamecocks would have a hurry-up, no-huddle offense. Ultimately, we saw very little of that, and with Roper out the door after his poor showings with that unit, South Carolina has a chance to deliver on that concept under new coordinator Bryan McClendon. The hype has started to build, with ESPN analyst Tom Luginbill claiming South Carolina looked like “old-school Oregon” after he visited practice earlier in the spring. We’ll see how much of that is on display tomorrow.
Depth in the secondary
The Gamecocks’ defensive backfield is thin on depth and short on experience, highlighted by the recent news that rising sophomore Jamyest Williams will make the switch from corner to safety. Williams — along with Tayvn Jackson, who is still nursing his hamstring — have been on the shelf for most of the spring. With some of its more experienced players unavailable, South Carolina will quickly see what else it has to work with in the secondary.
Also of note on defense, a handful of newcomers — like Tyreek Johnson and J.J. Enagbare at defensive end, and Israel Mukuamu at defensive back — could make an early impact.
Who will step up?
With big names like Deebo Samuel, Rico Dowdle, and Bryson Allen-Williams sitting out the spring, we’ll likely see new or unexpected faces make some noise in the spring game. Again, it’s hard to take too much away from a performance in a scrimmage, but it’s always enjoyable watching a couple players come out of relative obscurity to make a push for playing time (and give fans something to chew on for the next several months).