South Carolina is 2-4 at the midpoint of its season and needs to do some serious work if it is going to make a bowl game this season.
We take a closer look at five players that need to step it up to help the Gamecocks flip their season in the second half:
The senior offensive tackle needs to be the cornerstone of the offense line as the starting left tackle. But he has not been that through six games after being a preseason All-SEC selection.
His move from the right side to the left side has been rocky. He has been beaten on key plays a handful of times and has lacked consistency. Next to him, left guard Zack Bailey has been the best offensive lineman for the Gamecocks.
If Zandi can take a step forward and solidify the left side – both in run and pass blocking – the Gamecocks offense has a chance to be better in the second half.
Lammons has been mostly fine at cornerback this season. But his play is needed elsewhere. The Gamecocks have cycled through four punt returners this season. Simply put, the position has been dreadful. It has turned over the ball. It has accounted just for 18 yards on five returns in six games.
One of the best remedies for a stagnant offense is getting “hidden yards” from special teams. South Carolina got that when A.J. Turner had a big runback on the opening kickoff against ECU.
It needs more from the punt return game and Lammons is back in that spot, it appears.
Samuel’s inclusion on this list is less about a need to elevate play and more a reflection of the importance of keeping him on the field. South Carolina’s offense is not the same without Samuel or Bryan Edwards.
When the sophomore returned from injury against Georgia, he recorded 90 yards receiving with receptions of 33 and 39 yards. Those plays had been lacking. He needs to be healthy in the second half of the season for the Gamecocks.
The senior defensive lineman looked primed to be a consistent performer on the defensive line. His versatility was a strength praised in preseason camp, but he has not been the best at either spot. Those honors go to Darius English at defensive end and Taylor Stallworth at defensive tackle.
So the Gamecocks have half a defensive line playing rather well, but need more. Lewis is a good pick for that, as the second defensive end, while the second defensive tackle has been a revolving door.
The lone constant presence at safety this season, Smith returned to the starting lineup after a brief removal.
He and Chaz Elder form a decent starting unit, but Smith is among the main offenders of not tackling physically, at times. To his credit, he said as much about his performance at Mississippi State, which led to not being a starter the following week against East Carolina.
Smith has been back in the starting lineup and has played well of late. That is a trend that needs to continue as he is on the brink of having a really nice season.