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South Carolina vs. Charlotte: Three keys

A chance for the Gamecocks to get right awaits.

NCAA Football: Georgia at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks look to catch their breath and get some momentum back into Williams-Brice Stadium — in front of a sold-out crowd — when they take on the Charlotte 49ers at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow on ESPNU. The first meeting between these programs will provide the Gamecocks a chance to retool and recalibrate after suffering a couple lopsided losses. Here’s what I’ll be looking for:

Get the offense on track. This has been an evergreen statement since the Steve Spurrier era ended, but there was hope that once the defense-first approach of Will Muschamp’s tenure was over, the Gamecocks could finally get back to some semblance of having an offensive identity. In Year 2 of the Shane Beamer experience, we’re still waiting, and patience among fans is at an all-time low with offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield (and possibly among players too, if Josh Vann’s comments on the playcalling this past week are anything to go by). South Carolina desperately needs quarterback Spencer Rattler to get into a groove, and the run game has been anemic as well outside of some occasional flashes from JuJu McDowell and MarShawn Lloyd. The offensive line, though, is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the unit, and hopefully they’ll finally have the opportunity for some road-grading against a C-USA squad.

Clamp down defensively. After missing the first three games, Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds is back in the saddle and fresh off a 400-yard, five-touchdown performance in the Niners’ win against Georgia State. While South Carolina is still missing a handful of defensive starters, the Gamecocks need to nevertheless find a way to contain the 49ers’ offense or else things will get a little more interesting than they’ve bargained for.

Quite simply, just do what you’re supposed to do in a game like this. After a dispiriting loss to Arkansas and then a drubbing from Georgia, the Gamecocks have two chances to right the ship before starting the SEC schedule in earnest. Unlike many Power 5 teams to this point, South Carolina didn’t have the luxury of stuffing the early weeks of its season with cupcakes, so now is finally the time to sit down for a little dessert. The last thing fans — and likely the coaching staff — want to see is the Gamecocks look listless, disjointed, and otherwise incapable of putting away an inferior opponent. USC could be forgiven for the uneven performance against Georgia State, seeing as it was the season opener and the Panthers aren’t a total pushover, but the Gamecocks are a 22.5-point favorite here, and it’s time to act like it.