South Carolina kicks off another college football season with a nationally-televised Thursday night tilt, this time against border rival North Carolina.

The Gamecocks foundered badly against Texas A&M in last year’s season opener, but appear to have addressed the issues that saw the Aggies post 52 points on South Carolina’s suddenly hapless defense.

North Carolina has been spectacularly average since the Tar Heels last won double-digit games in consecutive years in 1996 (10 wins) and 1997 (11). During that span, North Carolina has averaged 5.8 wins per season; and it has only gotten more mediocre under Larry Fedora, who has seen his win totals drop by one in each of his three seasons in Chapel Hill from eight down to six victories.

That said, Fedora’s team can’t be taken lightly, especially with quarterback Marquise Williams under center.

Here’s a look at five players that North Carolina and South Carolina fans should know when the Tar Heels and Gamecocks square off in the season opener on Sept. 3 in Charlotte:

1. WR Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina): Pharoh Cooper burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2014 earning first-team All-SEC honors thanks to a performance of 1,336 all-purpose yards and 11 touchdowns. The Havelock, N.C., native might not have Dylan Thompson throwing the ball to him, but he remains a home-run threat every time he touches the ball — whether that’s receiving, rushing or returning kicks. Cooper has five career plays (three receiving, two rushing) that have gone for more than 70 yards.

2. QB Marquise Williams (North Carolina): Marquise Williams is North Carolina’s version of Pharoh Cooper — an enormous talent flying just below the national hype barrage.

Owner of the Tar Heels’ career records for quarterback rushing yards (1,510) and touchdowns (22), Williams is a dual-threat quarterback the like unseen in Chapel Hill in quite some time.

What about Tar Heels single-season records, you ask? Williams owns program marks for total yards of offense (3,856), most plays (621), touchdowns responsible for (34), rushing yards by a quarterback (788) and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (13). Translation: if the Gamecocks haven’t fixed their porous defense from 2014 — which finished 105th nationally in rush defense and 85th in pass defense efficiency — the North Carolina quarterback will expose it quickly.

Williams is a Charlotte native, meaning Week 1’s season-opener in Bank of America Stadium will also be a homecoming, of sorts.

3. QB Connor Mitch (South Carolina): Steve Spurrier named Mitch his starting quarterback late in fall camp after a lengthy battle with Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia and Lorenzo Nunez. The redshirt sophomore has just six career pass attempts (19 yards), but is more than capable under center after one of the greatest high school passing careers in North Carolina preps history — ranking second all-time in the state in passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns.

At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, Mitch is a traditional pro-style quarterback possessing a strong arm. With three years of eligibility remaining, he has a chance to establish a nice little legacy in Columbia if he can master Spurrier’s offense.

4. WR Ryan Switzer (North Carolina): Just like South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper, Ryan Switzer also threw a touchdown pass in 2014. But, also just like his fellow junior, Switzer is even more valuable when the ball is being delivered to him. Switzer led the Tar Heels in catches (61) and yards (757) in 2014. He’s most dangerous returning punts, even if last year was considered a down year for him. As a freshman, Switzer tied an NCAA record and set a new ACC mark with five punts returned for a touchdown — en route to being named a first-team All-American. It’d be wise for South Carolina co-defensive coordinators Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward to account for Switzer’s presence at all times. Luckily, Steve Spurrier hates to punt.

5. DE Marquavius Lewis (South Carolina): Marquavius “Qua” Lewis is being asked to plug the gaps on a Gamecocks defensive front seven that finished last in the SEC in 2014 in tackles and sacks. The junior arrives in Columbia from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College where he was the Jayhawk Conference Defensive Player of the Year — once earning National Junior College Athletic Association’s National Player of the Week honors. In two seasons with the Blue Dragons, Lewis racked up 126 career tackles, 39.5 tackles-for-loss and 18.5 sacks. The Greenwood, S.C., native, who tips the scales at 6-foot-3, 264 pounds, will line up at the right defensive end position.

Other to watch on South Carolina: RB Brandon Wilds, TE Jerell Adams, LB Skai Moore, and S Isaiah Johnson

Others to watch on North Carolina: RB T.J. Logan, RB Elijah Hood and LB Jeff Schoettmer