Football season is on the horizon and anticipation is at an all-time high at USC as new Football Head Coach Shane Beamer has brought a new energy, atmosphere and buzz to campus.
“I am 100% convinced that the best days of South Carolina football are right in front of us,” Beamer said during a press conference in July.
Here's a preview of what to expect this season.
Though the first game of the season is approaching quickly, a starting quarterback still has not been named.
Sophomore Luke Doty started two games last season but developed a mid-foot fracture and minor ligament damage during practice on Aug. 13. Although he is currently on a scooter, Beamer said there is still a possibility he could play in the season-opener against Eastern Illinois on Sept. 4.
However, due to this uncertainty, there are a few other names to look out for.
Jason Brown, a former Saint Francis University quarterback, was an honorable mention for the STATS FCS Sophomore All American team.
Zeb Noland, the team's newest addition and a former quarterback at Iowa State Univeristy and North Dakota State Univeristy, has the most experience among those up for the position.
Noland came to South Carolina as a graduate assistant this summer and joined the team as a quarterback last week.
"I think we'll have a better idea of how things are going to shake out here towards the end of the week," Beamer said in a press conference on Tuesday.
Gamecock fans shouldn't have many worries for this position, as junior Kevin Harris was a member of the 2020 first-team All-SEC and led the league in rushing yards last season.
Aside from Harris, the roster includes other impressive athletes such as sophomore Marshawn Lloyd, who was a top 50 prospect out of high school.
Nick Muse likely will be the main target over the middle, returning for a fifth year. Last season, he caught 30 passes for a total of 425 yards.
At wide receiver, senior Jalen Brooks will be the main target for deep balls.
“When I think about deep balls and explosive plays – Jalen Brooks, Jalen Brooks, Jalen Brooks,” Beamer said.
Dakereon Joyner, a redshirt junior, and Ahmarean Brown, a junior transfer from Georgia Tech, will give the Gamecocks a speedy option.
The Gamecocks also picked up E.J. Jenkins, another transfer from Saint Francis. In 2019, Jenkins caught 39 passes and racked up 779 yards.
Offensive and Defensive Lines
This can probably be considered an area of experience for the Gamecocks, as every projected starter is an upperclassman.
Meanwhile, the defense has shown many signs of improvement after ranking tenth during the 2020 SEC season.
“I don’t see that 2020 defense when I see our guys right now,” Beamer said in a recent interview with The Big Spur. “They have created a lot of turnovers. We’ve talked about it. We have to win the turnover battle in games and then we’ve really put an emphasis on stopping the run and not giving up explosive plays, which we weren’t very good at (last year)."
Redshirt senior Jabari Ellis and junior Zacch Pickens are expected to start.
Alongside Ellis and Pickens, ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper said senior Kingsley Enagbare is a first-round talent.
The back seven will likely be full of new names, but expect them to be led by redshirt sophomore Cam Smith and senior R.J. Roderick, assuming both remain healthy throughout the season having just recovered from injuries.
South Carolina will open the 2021 season against FCS opponent Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 4 at 7:30 p.m. The Gamecocks begin the SEC slate at Georgia on Sept. 18 at 7:00 p.m.
South Carolina will also host Kentucky, Troy, Vanderbilt, Florida, Auburn and Clemson during the regular season.