South Carolina is rolling through spring practice, and one of the biggest storylines is who the backup quarterback will be. The Gamecocks host their annual spring game April 12th.
The Gamecocks have won 11 games three years in a row, and they’re looking for their first conference championship and their first berth to Atlanta since 2010. Here are five players who will play bigger roles in helping them get there in 2014:
Darius English, DE (rSO)
2013 stats: 19 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 FF
Buzz: Darius English is a marked man. South Carolina’s coaching staff marked English because he has to be the lifeblood of a rebuilding pass rush. With Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles now gone, English becomes the immediate player who comes to mind who has to increase his production. He currently weighs 245 pounds, up from 225 during the season, and he hopes to be 260 before the start of the season.
Mike Matulis, OG (rJR)
2013 stats: Did not play
Buzz: Matulis redshirted in 2013 because of a shoulder injury, but he’s wreaking havoc this spring and ready to take somebody’s position. He was a freshman All-American in 2011, but he’s missed games the last two seasons because of shoulder injuries. A tackle by trade, Matulis is playing really well at guard. Carolina returns what could be Steve Spurrier’s best offensive line since he’s been there, and Matulis could play a key role in doing so.
Skai Moore, LB (SO)
2013 stats: 56 tackles, 4 INTs
Buzz: South Carolina didn’t know what they had in Skai Moore. Moore’s freshman stat line came at a surprise. However, he’s now considered a weathered veteran who will be a key cog in the front seven. Because of Moore and others, Lorenzo Ward is tinkering with a 3-4 scheme, which would put more emphasis on linebackers. Moore’s numbers should increase, and he’ll assume a vital leadership role in 2014.
Shaq Roland, WR (JR)
2013 stats: 25 catches, 455 yards, 5 TDs
Buzz: The time is now for Shaq Roland. The former Mr. South Carolina Football is looking for a monster season in helping replace the departed Bruce Ellington. Roland is silky smooth running routes, and he can make the big grab; he’s shown that. His athleticism, talent and ability is off the charts; he just needs to be more consistent. Roland is primed for a monster season.
Dylan Thompson, QB (SR)
2013 stats: 52 of 89, 783 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs
Buzz: Thompson didn’t play his best football in 2013. In fact, he didn’t get to play much behind the quiet assassin Connor Shaw. The offense changes with Thompson, and he’s clearly Steve Spurrier’s starter. Spurrier recently called Thompson his best player ‘by far’, and that’s a ringing endorsement from a coach who usually takes some shots at his quarterbacks this time of the year.
Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY