The South Carolina offense has the potential to be elite in 2017, but one question remains — will the offensive line hold up?
How the line will hold up in actual games is to be determined, but USC's linemen are starting to settle into their positions, even those who have moved from last season. After Tuesday's practice, Donell Stanley said four of the positions have regular first-teamers.
Stanley, who started 2016 at right guard before suffering a season-ending injury on the first series, has moved across to left guard, where he's seeing first-team reps. Joining him on the first team are Alan Knott at center, Cory Helms at right guard and Zack Bailey at right tackle.
Knott and Helms spent significant time in their current positions last season, while Bailey, the Gamecocks' top lineman last fall, was the regular starter at left guard.
With four positions seemingly locked up, the only battle remains at left tackle, where Stanley says Malik Young and JUCO transfer Dennis Daley are splitting first-team reps.
Eric Wolford stepped in during bowl season as the new offensive line coach, replacing Shawn Elliott, and tight end Hayden Hurst says there's been a noticeable difference.
“They have been impressive,” Hurst said. “They are physical, understanding blocks. I have been impressed with those guys just as a whole unit.”
The group gave up 41 sacks last season, tied for most in the SEC, but with four starters returning and a new coach in the mix, quarterback Jake Bentley says he'll "stand behind them any day of the week."