South Carolina is set to take on the USF Bulls in the Birmingham Bowl, so here are some storylines and predictions for the Gamecocks ahead of the game.
For many reasons, it was a successful first season for Will Muschamp as the South Carolina head coach. The Gamecocks were competitive in almost every game, a young group gained a lot of experience, and the team rolled off four wins in the last six games to make a bowl. Now, it is about finishing strong heading into the offseason.
Here are five thoughts and predictions as the Gamecocks take on USF on December 29.
The Growth At QB
If you haven’t heard, South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley should have been a high school senior this year, but instead, he was taking over the starting position under center less than halfway through the season. He has the potential to be a star in the SEC, and an extra month of practice will go a long way toward next season. There should be a big difference between his maturity level in the last game against Clemson and now.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers has given headaches to every defense he has faced this season. The Gamecocks must keep him in the pocket, as his scrambling and ability to make plays when running is outstanding. Expect Muschamp to have something dialed up.
Going Out Party
Linebacker T.J. Holloman is the leader of this Gamecocks’ defense. It will be his job to keep an eye on Flowers and keeping containment inside the pocket. Don’t be surprised to see Holloman win the game’s MVP if the Gamecocks come away with a win.
Rushing The Ball
It is imperative for the Gamecocks to be able to rush the ball with Rico Dowdle to be effective on offense. Not only does it set up the pass for Bentley, but it takes pressure off of the young quarterback.
Muschamp’s Team Now
The coaching transition is over and this is his team. It must take on his identity – tough minded and scrappy – and overcome the lack of talent that is currently on the roster. If the players buy in, Muschamp’s second stint as a head coach could be successful.