South Carolina's first four practices are now in the books, and a few things are obvious.
In no particular order, here they are:
The Gamecocks have perhaps unprecedented depth
When your offensive line coach is saying he’s got enough bodies to fill his spots, you know things are good. Offensive line coaches never think they have enough players, but Shawn Elliott is the exception this year. South Carolina’s offensive line coach is even talking about building for the future.
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And that’s not the only spot where there are plenty of players. Wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. and secondary coach Lorenzo Ward both talked Friday about how deep their positions are. There’s no longer a position on the field where the Gamecocks are glaringly thin.
There will be stiff competition for the backup running back job
Newcomer Shon Carson has impressed both starter Marcus Lattimore and running backs coach Jay Graham. Carson came to Columbia saying he planned to be the top backup behind Lattimore, but junior Kenny Miles is not going to step aside meekly, Graham said. Miles added almost 20 pounds of good weight during the offseason. The question is, does that make him a better tailback or a candidate to move to fullback, where South Carolina could use an experienced player?
There will be some unhappy wide receivers
Don’t be surprised if a young wide receiver, maybe two, decides to transfer in the next two months. Spurrier Jr. says he has 10 guys who can play at this level. The problem is, it’s almost impossible to give more than six meaningful snaps.
Who will the odd men out for the Gamecocks this season? It’s hard to say. Clearly, Alshon Jeffery is the bell cow. After that, there are a bunch of guys trying to distinguish themselves. Here’s my early guess for top six based on nothing more than a hunch: Jeffery, Jason Barnes, DeAngelo Smith, Bruce Ellington, Ace Sanders and Damiere Byrd, with D.L. Moore as my 6A player.
What seems like a slew of injuries probably isn’t that serious
There are a lot of guys in yellow, no-contact jerseys right now, but that’s probably the case at most schools. There’s little reason to rush anybody back from anything when the first game is more than three weeks away. If some of these guys stay in yellow jerseys until late next week, start to worry.
The ones who could have a lingering issue are cornerback Akeem Auguste, who has an arch injury, which is tough to forecast, and offensive lineman Mike Matulis, who has a sprained ankle. Sprained ankles can be very slow healers, and freshmen offensive linemen need all the reps they can get.