South Carolina football: 5 things I want to see in Saturday's spring game
There will be plenty to learn Saturday in the Garnet and Black scrimmage with a new coaching staff and a host of players primed for breakout seasons.
Shane Beamer’s energy is something that should be expected, and there are several familiar faces across the board who should make a splash, from Luke Doty to Kevin Harris and Nick Muse, to Zacch Pickens and Jordan Burch.
For the foreseeable future — and especially Saturday — fans and media will look closely for what is similar and different in the most public display yet of the Beamer era compared to how the Gamecocks operated under Will Muschamp.
Here’s a look at 5 things I want to see in Saturday’s spring game:
Luke Doty’s Satterfield influence
The rising sophomore QB will be watched closely to see how his development is going, particularly his feet, which he said offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield has focused on this spring. Since he’s expected to be out of shotgun more than in the Mike Bobo offense, will Doty move around the pocket more, and still scramble, or will there be different wrinkles that Satterfield brings from Joe Brady and the Carolina Panthers? Doty has said the game is slowing down and he can see windows in the defense better. How will that manifest itself on the field? We’ll get our first clues Saturday.
An increased role for Nick Muse
South Carolina has 3 coaches with experience as a tight ends coach. Combine that with TE Nick Muse being among the most valuable and productive Gamecocks in the second half of last season, and there is a strong chance the tight end takes on a more prominent role in this offense. After all, the 6-4, 250-pound senior elected to use an extra year of eligibility in part because of the sales pitch to be involved in Satterfield’s offense.
Zacch Pickens and Jordan Burch
The 5-stars will be focused on for the rest of their careers with the Gamecocks, and with meaningful experience, perhaps now more than ever. Beamer’s staff inherits a defense that allowed 36 points per game last season, and the secondary is all but completely made over. That puts the onus on the defensive line, which has talent and experience even beyond Pickens and Burch, to produce.
The best story from last season’s team, Harris raised a lot of eyebrows around the SEC with 1,138 rushing yards. He has battled some injuries this spring and might not be 100% on Saturday. But his presence should go a long way to dictating what the new Satterfield offense looks like. If Harris is limited, look for ZaQuandre White to have a coming-out party, especially as a pass catcher out of the backfield.
What once was a strength not too long ago might be a weakness at least for a while until the Gamecocks figure out how to replace NFL-bound Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu and transfers Jammie Robinson and John Dixon. The daunting task is illustrated by the fact that Cam Smith is among the most experienced returnee with 3 career starts and 11 games played.