COLUMBIA, S.C. — In this SEC Country mailbag, Hale McGranahan takes questions about South Carolina football, recruiting and where things stand in Year 2 under coach Will Muschamp.
The questions below were received via Twitter and Facebook.
Could it possibly be a dramatic difference of the defense in Year 2 under Muschamp, after the players from last year have acclimated? Dante Sawyer, JaMarcus King, Rashad Fenton, Chris Lammons, etc.
Development is a big part of the Muschamp lexicon, so you’ve got to believe we’ll see signs of that, especially with the guys he coaches the most. In addition to his duties as head coach and recruiting coordinator, Muschamp also coaches safeties, so it’s reasonable to think Lammons and D.J. Smith, the starters at that position, are in for solid senior seasons.
For everyone who’s back from last season, not just the defensive players you named, familiarity helps, at least it should. Players know what’s expected out of them in practice, the meeting room and on game day.
How many wins does USC need to see recruits jump on board? Dax Hollifield, Channing Tindall, etc.
Since Tindall is expected to make his decision before the end of September, there are four games for him, you, me and everybody else to see. A 4-0 record wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that he commits, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. While 1-3 wouldn’t help, per se, it probably wouldn’t totally crush South Carolina’s chances, I think.
If the Gamecocks reel off 8-10 wins this season, they’ll have a really, really, really, really, really good shot at landing Hollifield.
The big thing with Hollifield, Tindall and pretty much any other recruit will be the eye test. At the very least, South Carolina has to show that it’s headed in the right direction, on the uptick, etc.
Do you think Zay Brown sees any action with Jaylin Dickerson out for the year?
Doubtful. Brown is not listed on the two-deep depth chart and there wasn’t much talk about his play during preseason camp. It looks, to me, like he’s headed for a redshirt.
Who do you expect to be the workhorse running back [and] what does each back bring to the table?
Facebook: Allen Miller
Of the three, I think Rico Dowdle is the favorite. He performed pretty well last season after missing a good bit of time during the summer/preseason/season to injury. Now that he’s got a full offseason under his belt, to go along with that first year of experience, I suspect he’ll take a significant step forward.
Dowdle and Ty’Son Williams are comparable. They’re bigger backs, strong runners, but they can slash and show off their speed. Dowdle, to me, is the better of the two — that’s probably why he’s going to start. A.J. Turner isn’t as big, but he runs hard for a guy who’s in the range of 190-200 pounds. He’s a nice change-of-pace back when partnered with guys such as Dowdle and Williams.
How are our young receivers looking? Are they going to be able to help Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards?
Facebook: Wayne Staggs
Shi Smith is the fastest guy on the team and apparently there isn’t much, if any, drop-off when he’s on the field. Players, coaches, etc. say he’s been the real deal since Day 1.
I think things have been a little more up and down for OrTre Smith, who enrolled in January, but he’s going to play this season. It sounds like Chad Terrell will, too.
If we do get rain, how do you think it will affect the game on both sides? Does it favor either side?
Facebook: Ricky Mitchell
It would favor slightly North Carolina State. To me, their defensive line/front has the advantage over South Carolina’s offensive line. On the other side of the ball, the matchup might be a push.
Will Jake Bentley have better protection this year to showcase his ability?
Facebook: Steven Nix
That’s the million-dollar question. At the end of the season, I think we’ll look at the Eric Wolford’s decisions to move Malik Young to left tackle and Zack Bailey to right tackle and say, ‘That worked out pretty well.’
Do you think we can take the East this year?
Facebook: Jason Johnson
That side of the league is wide open, even though Georgia and Florida are probably the favorites. But, right now, I don’t think South Carolina can win the East. However, if the Gamecocks win big on Saturday, I’ll probably change my tune, because I really like N.C. State.
N.C. State’s offense, pass-heavy, run-heavy or balanced?
Facebook: Tim Woodward
They definitely prefer to run. They’ll get Nyheim Hines out on the perimeter. You’ll see Jaylen Samuels carry the ball. Backup quarterback Jalan McClendon is a potential Wildcat threat. Reggie Gallaspy has been a productive reserve who will probably get more carries this season.
Record this year?
Facebook: Mitch Jaggers
- (N) N.C. State: L
- @ Mizzou: W
- Kentucky: W
- La. Tech: W
- @ Texas A&M: L
- Arkansas: W
- @ Tennessee: L
- Vandy: W
- @ UGA: L
- Florida: W
- Wofford: W
- Clemson: L