South Carolina fans will get their first glimpse at the the Will Muschamp era when the Gamecocks take the field for the annual Garnet and Black Game Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks will have plenty of questions to attack, namely at the quarterback position, as they attempt to bounce back from last season’s 3-9 campaign that saw Steve Spurrier resign midseason.
Here’s everything you need to know about the spring game:
Garnet squad vs. Black squad
- Kickoff: Noon ET, Sat.
- Weather: 64 degrees, 0 percent chance of precipitation, 19 mph winds
Storylines to watch
The spring game will be pivotal for South Carolina’s quarterback competition even though it won’t feature half of the the Gamecocks’ candidates for the starting job . Both Perry Orth (broken collarbone) and Lorenzo Nunez (hyperextended knee) will miss the game, leaving plenty of snaps for redshirt junior Connor Mitch and freshman Brandon McIlwain.
Muschamp said last week that he’s been pleased with the four-star recruit’s progress during spring ball. Mitch hasn’t generated much buzz during the spring session, but could get plenty of opportunities to prove himself during the scrimmage.
No matter what happens Saturday, South Carolina will need to discover some clarity at quarterback.
Heir to the throne?
South Carolina will rely on an inexperienced group of receivers to fill the void created by NFL-bound Pharoh Cooper. Redshirt senior Matrick Belton is the lone upperclassman on the receiving depth chart and caught only 11 passes for 121 yards last season.
The Gamecocks have two sophomores, four redshirt freshmen and a true freshman filling out the rest of its receiving corps. The Gamecocks’ returning receivers combined to catch 28 passes for 356 yards and one touchdown. By comparison, Cooper caught 66 passes for 973 yards and eight touchdowns.
South Carolina’s coaching staff will surely be looking for someone to emerge.
Who leads the running game?
South Carolina also must find a replacement for last year’s leading tailback, Brandon Wilds.
The front runner could be junior David Williams, who played in all 12 games as a backup last season. Williams ran 86 times for 299 yards and also caught 11 passes for 93 yards in 2015.
Williams may earn the job by default, as senior Darius Paulk and junior Rod Talley are the only other tailbacks with playing experience. They combined for 14 yards on four carries last season.
Williams may be a lock for the starting job, but the running-back reps will certainly be important to monitor Saturday.
One question that needs to be answered:
Who walks out of the Garnet and Black Game as the leading candidate in the quarterback competition?
Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper have emphasized that they aren’t in a rush to name a starter. However, they’d probably feel better if they could point to a favorite for the job going into the summer. Orth’s injury certainly won’t make that task any easier, but if McIlwain performs admirably, he will have to be considered the front runner.