Five things to watch for at Saturday’s Garnet and Black Spring Game:
1. I GOT YOUR BACK
Dylan Thompson is the clear choice as the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback and replacement for Connor Shaw, but who’s going to be the top backup? It’s cycled between walk-on Perry Orth and redshirt freshman Connor Mitch this spring, and those two plus redshirt sophomore Brendan Nosovitch will each get their snaps Saturday. Perhaps Pharoh Cooper will show off the ol’ wing as well.
2. TWO CORNERS
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The Gamecocks’ most pressing need is cornerbacks, and definite starters may not be final-stamped until Aug. 28, after the new blood reports to school and the staff can observe the freshmen in action. Rico McWilliams, Jamari Smith, Ali Groves and Sidney Rhodes have had solid camps, though, and if they play well Saturday, perhaps that carries over into a starting assignment against Texas A&M.
3. BIG BOYS DON’T PLAY
It’s a spring game. Thompson, Mike Davis, Damiere Byrd, Skai Moore, Kaiwan Lewis will play, but most likely not for an entire half, much less the entire game. Too little to gain and too much to lose by playing the stars Saturday. It’s a chance for the young guys, and a chance for the emergence of the fabled spring superstar – Taqiy Muhammad and DeAngelo Smith are past recipients.
4. THE CATCHER
Steve Spurrier has promised a surprise celebrity for his spring-game staple off-the-bench play, where a receiver runs from the sideline to catch a touchdown. Spurrier has remained tight-lipped on the identity, leaving it up to popular guesses – Darius Rucker? Shaw? Ric Flair? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Shoot, maybe Grayson Greiner can do it – he’s used to catching.
The spring game, like most times Williams-Brice Stadium is used, is a recruiting tool. There will be several prospects milling about on the sidelines. Nobody on staff would mind a 40,000-plus crowd screaming and yelling for a glorified scrimmage with that kind of company around.