The smoke has vanished and the dust has proverbially settled after Georgia dismantled South Carolina in a 48-7 blowout last Saturday.

The Gamecocks can take some solace that they can regain some lost ground with home games against Charlotte and South Carolina State in the next 2 weeks. South Carolina can begin to regroup from its 1-2 start, as the Gamecocks are listed as 22-point favorites this Saturday.

Still, there are plenty of candidates on the team who need to emerge for the Gamecocks to regain their flight pattern. Here are 5 players or areas of the team at the top of that list:

1. Quarterback Spencer Rattler

The high-profile, much-maligned junior needs to step up his game in the next 2 weeks. Rattler has the golden opportunity to redeem himself with some blockbuster numbers, starting against Charlotte.

He certainly has the ability and needs a fast and productive start this Saturday. Rattler can also get himself back into the NFL Draft scuttlebutt if he can have a turnover-free 2 weeks as well as post some impressive numbers with his arm and legs. For Rattler, the time is now.

2. Running back MarShawn Lloyd

He is another player where the words potential and ability should be magnified. Through 3 games, Lloyd has 75 yards on 27 carries for a paltry 2.8 average per carry. His game-high is 11 carries for 30 yards against Georgia State.

Lloyd also has 10 receptions for 107 yards, his best being a 6-catch, 72-yard effort against Arkansas.

The redshirt sophomore began the season billed as the Gamecocks’ lead back who appeared destined for a big season after a productive offseason. Part of his lack of production can fall upon the offensive line as well as play calling, but Lloyd needs to be able to turn the corner better as well as accelerate out of the backfield. He doesn’t seem slowed by a knee injury that shelved him for all of the 2020 season.

Like Rattler, Lloyd also will have a major opportunity to post some attractive numbers the next 2 weeks.

3. Edge rusher Jordan Burch

He was ticketed to have a breakout season. But through 3 games, the 5-star recruit has just 16 tackles, 7 solo, and 1 sack.

After 2 years playing behind the likes of Aaron Sterling and Kingsley Enagbare, Burch had a solid spring and summer, and was viewed as the link to keeping an effective pass rush going this season. The Gamecocks’ lack of a consistent pass rush has been a major factor in their inconsistent play.

Even though he just stepped into the spotlight this season, Burch has to improve his game immediately if the defensive unit wants to regain a semblance of respect and consistency over the next few months. He certainly has the talent, but it has to be applied on a regular basis.

4. The offensive line

The unit has been ranked as one of college football’s lowest by Pro Football Focus.

Eric Douglas is the anchor at center and a 3-year starter. Tackles Jaylen Nichols and Dylan Wonnum have seen time in starting roles, and guards Jovaughn Gwyn and Vershon Lee were utility players who should be accustomed to their positions.

The line has to generate more running holes as well as provide better pass protection in the upcoming weeks to help the Gamecocks reach the next level.

5. Cornerback Darius Rush

Heading into the season, Rush was viewed as one of the best in the college game and a high NFL Draft pick. He had a banner year last season and was seen as a stabilizer on the defense.

But through 3 games, Rush has just 7 tackles, 2 pass breakups and 1 quarterback hit. As a unit, the secondary was fairly solid until the Georgia game.

The senior needs to take the lead and become a playmaker over the next several weeks, as well as help establish the Gamecocks’ secondary as a premier one.