South Carolina is headed for its second straight home game for the first time this season … or is it? The Gamecocks are set to square off with Georgia at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, but all those details remain unsettled.
That’s just one of the keys we take a look at with the rivalry game coming up:
1. Prepare for anything
Will there be a game Saturday? Will it be in Columbia?
Right now, those questions and many more are unanswered as Hurricane Matthew approaches.
The Gamecocks are left preparing for a game they can’t be sure they will play and a home game they can’t be sure will be at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Will Muschamp said he wants his players to be comfortably uncomfortable and preparing with some level of uncertainty has to fall under that umbrella.
2. Get healthy at wide receiver
The question of what is holding back the South Carolina offense has a few answers. But the biggest one has to be the lack of continuity at wide receiver after the way the offensive line played against Texas A&M.
South Carolina had Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel back in practice Tuesday, a positive sign for the two best wide receivers on the roster. The Gamecocks badly need their full stock of wide receivers – or close to it – moving forward.
Randrecous Davis will be out Saturday for the third straight game. Even if the rain dictates the game and prevents South Carolina from throwing the ball much, getting back to health is key.
3. Adjust back to a power run team
It has been a while since South Carolina faced a non-spread team. Really, it has been since its season-opening win at Vanderbilt, but Kentucky did mix in some power run game on Sept. 24.
But with Georgia, it’s back to a team that is going to run the ball and do things with more power to its game.
The Gamecocks will be tested by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, a dynamic pair of running back. The good news for South Carolina: It had a lot of success against Vanderbilt and RalphWebb. The bad news for South Carolina: Georgia is better up front than Vanderbilt.
4. Settle on a quarterback
Brandon McIlwain and Perry Orth are back in a split-type situation at quarterback. Muschamp said Tuesday he has an idea of which way the Gamecocks will go, but a starter has not been named.
It has been McIlwain for three weeks after two weeks of Orth in the starting role. But the offense turned stagnant with McIlwain at the helm. Now, it could be Orth, who threw for 138 yards in a quarter last week.
But this much is certain in the uncertainty: Whichever QB plays needs to have a sense of balance. It can’t be a situation in which McIlwain is in to run and Orth is in to pass.
5. Build on positivity
Predictably, Muschamp said he doesn’t believe in moral victories following South Carolina’s 24-13 loss to Texas A&M on Saturday. He doesn’t have to and most coaches would say the same.
But that doesn’t mean the Gamecocks don’t have a lot to build on from the loss. The defense played well against one of the top offenses in the nation. The offense learned Rico Dowdle can be a contributor and Perry Orth got back in the mix. If special teams held up its end of the bargain, the outcome could have been different.
Moral victory? No. Positive direction? Yes.