So we are 100 days from South Carolina Gamecocks football. In a literal sense, the season actually starts on Friday, August 26, when Cal takes on Hawaii in a little Pac-12 battle in Australia, but for all intents and purposes, it really gets going on September 1. With South Carolina and Vanderbilt getting going that day on ESPN, what are some things to keep an eye on as another season of Gamecocks football is approaching? There were probably a ton to choose from - and feel free to shame us in the comments for the ones I missed - but I cut it down to the five I though were the most important.
1. The new guy on the sideline
Hey guys, did you hear that the Gamecocks have a new head coach? While they might not challenge for an SEC East title this year, Will Muschamp's coming in with plenty of optimism. Whether that equates to wins remains to be seen, but Muschamp's saying and doing all of the right things now. Still, there's still a level of skepticism among some Gamecocks fans that Muschamp was the wrong choice. At least he's not replacing a guy that won two national championships this time!
2. The new guy under center (maybe? perhaps?)
Last year's fall camp began with questions surrounding who would start for the Gamecocks at quarterback. This year's fall camp will begin with...well...questions surrounding who will start for the Gamecocks at quarterback. Will it be Perry Orth (HEY DID YOU GUYS KNOW HE WAS A WALK-ON AND USED TO WORK AT PUBLIX), Brandon McIlwain or Lorenzo Nunez? Or will Jake Bentley leapfrog all three of them and make an immediate impression when he laces up the cleats for the first time this fall?
3. Who will catch the ball?
Pharoh Cooper left South Carolina as one of their most versatile, dynamic offensive weapons. He and Jerell Adams combined for nearly 1400 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The next leading receiver? Deebo Samuel, with just 161 yards. Needless to say, WR will be a spot that we'll need to be keeping an eye on during fall camp and throughout the regular season. Bryan Edwards looked good during the spring game and stands to get a good amount of PT this year. To be honest, the staff may not really have much choice, but even if they had a few more options at wideout, he may have still gotten on the field a good bit, I think. It looks like Jamari Smith will get a shot in the slot receiver position, so we'll see how that turns out.
4. David Williams
Last year, David Williams said that he wanted to be the featured back for this program alongside Brandon Wilds. Well, 299 yards doesn't really lend itself to that theory. The thing with Williams is that he's said all the right things, but it hasn't turned into on-the-field production. This year is his year. He is the #1 back going into the 2016 season, and he needs to play like it. Otherwise, there are plenty of guys, including AJ Turner - listed behind Williams that will be more than happy to take some carries.
5. That defense
Woo, boy. We have to include this. Let's just say that basically anything will be an improvement over last year, where you could count on several occasions the number of times CBs were burned, players in the secondary were late on assignments, players couldn't tackle, etc. They still couldn't get to the quarterback consistently, even after bringing in elite JUCO end Marquavius Lewis (above) last season. Corner should get some help with talented JUCO prospect Jamarcus King coming in for 2016. The safeties? Not many changes, but they have to get better.