Spring games are relatively meaningless, and Will Muschamp isn’t the type of coach who is going to show anything new at a spring game.
I can’t think of much we’re really going to be able to take from this game, other than seeing what players are going to be on the first team heading into the fall and other minute things.
Some Form of a Running Game
Everyone and their mother are probably going to be looking for the running game that has been missing since Mike Davis was a Gamecock.
If you want to argue that the running game was around in 2016 when Rico Dowdle has 754 yards and 6 touchdowns I probably wouldn’t disagree. However, it didn’t have that big of an impact in my opinion.
If you haven’t been paying attention, the running game for South Carolina has been relatively non-existent for the past two seasons.
Rico Dowdle finished 19th in total rushing in the SEC, with a little over 650 yards on 123 attempts. Obviously, Rico was hurt for part of the season, but USC still finished in 10th place in team rushing in the SEC. Carolina also only had 15 rushing touchdowns for the season, which was good for a tie for 14th place.
There are two main reasons that those kinds of stats can’t happen this year: Carolina isn’t winning more than six games if they can’t run the ball and Jake Bentley needs a running game to take some of the pressure off of him.
Don’t know if you’ve seen the schedule for 2019 yet, but it’s awful. Playing Alabama at home, traveling to Athens to play Georgia, and having Clemson come to Columbia in one season shouldn’t be allowed. All three of those teams will beat Carolina by 14+ if Bentley has to drop back 35+ times.
To be successful against those three teams, USC will have to be able to consistently run the ball well so the defense won’t be on the field all game and be gassed heading into the 4th quarter.
Here’s the other side of the reason a running game is needed: Jake Bentley could thrive in an offense where the success of the offense wasn’t completely dependent on him every game.
We’ve all watched Bentley be the starting QB for two and a half years, two of which a consistent running game couldn’t be found. In the 2018 and 2017 seasons, South Carolina won every game it played in when a running back for the Gamecocks broke the 100-yard mark (8-0).
In 2018, 3 of the 6 losses were by 14+ points and the most yards any single runner had in those three games was 62 by Mon Denson.
There’s obviously a direct correlation between South Carolina winning football games and having a back rush for more than 100 yards.
I honestly don’t care who the lead back is next season. I seriously doubt new running backs coach Thomas Brown does either. Carolina needs a back to be the workhouse, break 1,000 yards on the season, and take some of the pressure off of Jake.
If Carolina wants to be better than 6-6, a running-game has to be there. Hopefully the Spring Game will show some promise in that category.
A Clear-Cut #2 Quarterback
Jake Bentley is going to be the starting quarterback in 2019. Sorry to the haters, that’s what is going to happen.
With that being said, the competition for the backup role is wide open. As it stands today, it seems to be a two-way race for the job between Dakeron Joyner and Ryan Hilinski.
I don’t really have a preference for who is named the backup, but I really want the play of both to be showcased in the Spring Game this season. That way, there can be no doubt between the coaches or fans about who is the better player.
Solid Offensive Line Play
Offensive line is the one position most fans aren’t worried about and really shouldn’t be, Coach Eric Wolford has done an amazing job coaching and recruiting.
However, Carolina just lost Dennis Daley and Zach Bailey to the NFL draft and Donnell Stanley will likely be moving from the center position for the 2019 season. Losing your left tackle and moving the center, by far the most important spot on the O-Line, can cause some bad things to happen.
In the Belk Bowl against Virginia, Zach Bailey wasn’t able to play because of an injury against Akron. So, Donnell Stanley was moved to right guard, and Hank Manos got the start at center.
To put it lightly, Manos had a bad game. The lights seemed a little too bright for him along with his body not really being ready to play big boy football. If he can’t play better next season, especially against better defensive lineman than Virginia had, then the offensive line will definitely take a big step back.
I’d really like to see Manos, or Chandler Farrell, play and play well in the Spring Game to ease my nerves about the O-Line.
Do Not Want
“Jake Bentley’s Dad, Bobby, is on the South Carolina Staff” – some announcer
I think we can all agree that if we hear about Jake Bentley’s dad, Bobby Bentley, being on the South Carolina coaching staff one more time we might all throw our remotes through the TV. To whoever is announcing the game on SEC network, you’re better than that.
We’ve all heard about it for the last two and a half years. You may stop now.
I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but Carolina had about a million injuries last season. It completely depleted the defense and just derailed the season in general.
If any player, regardless of role on the team, gets injured in the slightest, I will personally sue Under Armour and Jeff Dilman. I’m not joking.
A Celebrity Who Can Catch the Football
If you didn’t watch the Spring Game last season, please watch the video below.
I mean, Spurrier is over 70 years old and hasn’t had much energy since 2013 to do anything other than call plays on Saturday, so I can’t be that mad about the drop. But if you get the call to make that catch, you have to make the catch.
If the celebrity guest for this year’s Spring Game drops the ball, it honestly should just become a raffle for a random fan to get to be able to play a single snap at whatever position they choose. The play will be fully padded and no holds barred.
Personally, that would be a lot more fun than watching Steve Spurrier drop the ball for the Gamecocks. He’s already disappointed us enough on and off the football field, so it may be time for a change.
In all seriousness, hopefully the Spring Game will be able to showcase the mid-year guys who have busted their tales for the last couple of months. I doubt a ton of fans are going to be watching after the 3rd quarter, so it’s not like it really matters either way.
But really though, let’s do the raffle thing and watch someone get obliterated. It would be a ton of fun.
Please credit The Spurs Up Show and specifically @thom_thebomb on twitter if it happens.