Hale McGranahan/SEC Country
WR Deebo Samuel is one of the Gamecocks' unquestioned leaders in 2017.

Muschamp talks offensive skill players, defense and prospects for upcoming season

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Will Muschamp gave an early assessment of his football team in 2017 on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly on Tuesday …

“We’re not where we want to be, but thank goodness we’re not where we were. … I think, offensively, we have the opportunity to have a pretty good group,” Muschamp said. “Jake Bentley is a really good quarterback. We’ve got really good skill [players]: Deebo Samuel, Bryan Edwards, Hayden Hurst, Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner, Ty’Son Williams.”

Muschamp identified several unknowns on defense but couldn’t help but gush over the wealth of talent at the offensive skill positions.

North Carolina transfer Ty’Son Williams is the latest addition to the Gamecocks’ already-talented group of running backs. (Hale McGranahan/SEC Country)

RELATED: Will Muschamp on South Carolina’s progress

It’s a striking contrast to the team’s offense in 2016, when there were question marks at all the skill positions. Today, the Gamecocks boast one of the SEC’s most talented group of young playmakers.

Led by the now-experienced Bentley, the Gamecocks offense has a chance to make a big leap in 2017.

Gamecocks pass on the Pirates

The Gamecocks have canceled their scheduled trip to Greenville, N.C., to take on the Pirates in 2019, according to East Carolina athletic director Jeff Compher.

RELATED: South Carolina football reportedly backs out of game at East Carolina 

Early word is the Gamecocks are rethinking their out-of-conference schedule for 2019 with a game against North Carolina in Charlotte already on the books.

Frank Martin on PJ Dozier’s decision

PJ Dozier-South Carolina-South Carolina basketball
South Carolina point guard PJ Dozier has declared for the NBA draft and signed with an agent. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Despite losing one of his key players,- coach Frank Martin gushed over PJ Dozier’s decision to enter the NBA draft …

RELATED: Frank Martin ‘ecstatic’ for PJ Dozier as he heads for the NBA

“I am ecstatic for him,” Martin said. “I am so happy for him because he’s worked so hard. He’s stepping into a new journey. That’s what it’s about, preparing those guys for that next step.”

March Madness to return to South Carolina

It was revealed on Tuesday that Columbia will be a site in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.

RELATED: South Carolina, Colonial Life Arena to host in 2019 NCAA Tournament

“Colonial Life Arena will host the first- and second-round games on March 22 and 24, 2019, as the city of Columbia will host the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1970,” SEC Country’s Mike Wilson reported.

Columbia is 1 of 8 regional sites for first-round action.

Back to the Final Four

After the news conference announcing Columbia as a regional host, Martin spoke with reporters about how his team’s Final Four appearance has lit a new competitive fire in him …

‘We’re not dead yet!’

Thanks to third baseman Jonah Bride’s doubles in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, the Gamecocks (23-13) were able to rally and top Davidson, 3-2, on Tuesday night.

RELATED: Jonah Bride’s clutch doubles lift South Carolina baseball to Tuesday win

“Jonah was the right man in the right spot [Tuesday night],” Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook said. “We don’t win the game without him. He’s just a baseball player, knows the situation at hand. He tries to go and execute what the pitcher is giving to him.”

The game Tuesday night was as close to a must-win as there can be at this point in the season. Having lost their last 3 SEC series, the Gamecocks could ill afford a defeat to a just-over .500 Davidson club.

South Carolina heads to Gainesville on Thursday for a critical 3-game conference series against Florida.

Feel-good flashback

With all this exciting March Madness-returning-to-S.C. talk, let’s take a trip down memory lane … a relatively short trip.

The time was March 2017 — a simpler time, when only 8 Fast & Furious movies existed. The Gamecocks had a date with the No. 2-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the tournament.

The game proved to be the shocker of the Big Dance …