Shane Beamer pushed back South Carolina’s spring practice as compared to Will Muschamp’s schedules in hopes that the Gamecocks gain an edge with the new strength and conditioning staff.

The offseason storylines now shift from Beamer changing the culture, and bringing back the Steve Spurrier golden days while also deflecting negative sentiment from the four re-hires Beamer had to make on his staff. Now the on-field product will bring a fresh batch of trends, and narratives around the 2021 Gamecocks.

Here are 10 questions I have at the dawn of spring practice:

10. Will there be a true QB competition?

Luke Doty enters spring camp with a bit of momentum coming off 2 1/2 games of starting experience, the most of any of the quarterbacks in the mix for playing time. Class of 2021 signee and early enrollee Colten Gauthier was joined by Saint Francis transfer Jason Brown in recent weeks. The Gamecocks have had a luxury in recent years with multiple capable quarterbacks to step in if an injury flares up, and the question is can the likes of Brown and Cauthier fill similar roles that Ryan Hilinski and Dakereon Joyner did in seasons past. Outside of Doty’s development, that’s the key issue facing the 2021 Gamecocks.

9. Will a No. 1 receiver emerge?

Georgia Tech transfer WR Ahmarean Brown and Jalen Brooks are the likely candidates here, but Xavier Legette has plenty of potential. It was the glaring hole in the offense after Shi Smith last season, and it will offer an early glimpse at the overall potential of the new offense.

8. Will the new coaching staff pay dividends early?

One of the storylines of the offseason and coaching carousel was that Beamer had to hire four positions twice thanks to a post-contract exodus by the likes of Mike Bobo and Tracy Rocker. That led to punch lines of the staff having an FCS All-Star label. Of course, the quarterback development is a main issue, but the defensive secondary will be full of new faces and plenty of position battles.

7. How will Marcus Satterfield compare to Mike Bobo?

Much was made during the Muschamp era about the changing offensive coordinators, and overall lack of production. Since Doty will be an easy comparison, and there’s plenty of firepower in the backfield for Satterfield to work with, this will be an easy talking point as spring turns into summer and fall and we learn more about the potential of the offense.

6. How will the change in schedule impact the program?

A year ago, South Carolina got 5 practices in before the coronavirus shutdown. This time, the Gamecocks are starting nearly a month later than in 2020. With 9 weeks in the weight room with the new strength and conditioning staff, that should pay dividends, in Beamer’s mind, as his staff installs new playbooks.

5. How will Beamer manage the roster?

The thing about Muschamp’s program was he always had talent, but there were holes throughout the roster. Early in his tenure, the offensive line struggled, and that led to the lack of production at running back. Last season it was wide receiver production. The linebackers usually had a key star, but not much down the depth chart. Given the slew of transfer portal exits and early NFL departures, spring will offer a glimpse into how Beamer will fill those holes.

4. Which newcomer will emerge?

The early pick is LB Debo Williams, a transfer from Delaware. He is intriguing because his team didn’t play last fall, and the 6-foot, 225-pound linebacker was a 3-star recruit in the 2020 class, and the No. 1 overall recruit out of Delaware, according to the 247Sports Composite. If he pans out, this is the kind of diamond in the rough that Beamer needs to succeed. Beamer has mentioned this sentiment, but if Williams turns into a contributor, plenty of media and fans will wonder how he got past Power 5 recruiters in high school.

3. Will MarShawn Lloyd make an appearance?

Beamer has hinted that that star RB MarShawn Lloyd could be cleared to return to the field for spring practice some seven months after his ACL injury that ended his 2020 season. Lloyd, of course, was expected to start ahead of Kevin Harris last season before Harris rushed for 1,138 yards, and led the SEC in yards per game. Lloyd’s appearance in the spring will be a tantalizing sight for Gamecock fans anxious to see him paired with Harris.

2. Will the tight end position produce a playmaker?

Nick Muse flashed at the end of last season when Doty took over as quarterback. Muse also returns as the only tight end among five scholarship players who has appeared in more than 6 games. Obviously, there is plenty of potential, most notably with Keveon Mullins, who appeared on the cusp last season before he was slowed by an ankle surgery that required surgery.

1. Can Cam Smith fill the lockdown cornerback expectations?

The NFL Draft will shine a bright light on the former dynamic duo of Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu, a pair of elite corners who caused fits for opposing passing games. There are plenty of questions and new faces in the defensive secondary, but Smith isn’t one of them. Smith, a former Army All-American and 4-star recruit, will be counted on to solidify the position at an SEC level.