Get live updates from all of USC's open practices here at GoGamecocks - get Friday updates starting at 6:30 p.m.
South Carolina opens the 2013 season, its 120th of intercollegiate football, at 7:15 Friday night with the first practice of the fall.
The Gamecocks, who were ranked No. 7 Thursday in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll, finished the 2012 season 11-2 with losses only to No. 9 LSU and No. 3 Florida.
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South Carolina has 29 practices scheduled between Friday and the Aug. 29 season opener against North Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium. The first week of practices is expected to be open to the public at the team’s Bluff Road practice facility.
Here are the five things we’ll be watching while we’re there:
THE CLOWNEY CIRCUS
Junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney begins what he has said will be his final season at South Carolina. He has 21 career sacks, eight away from the school record, and is a contender for the Heisman Trophy.
THE QUARTERBACK COMPETITION
Senior Connor Shaw is the starter. Junior Dylan Thompson will play, and the question is how much. The question probably will be asked every time Steve Spurrier holds a press conference this month.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
The Gamecocks have four starters returning on the offensive line with a combined 57 starts. The lone newcomer will be the most watched of the fall. That’s freshman center Cody Waldrop, who replaces four-year starter T.J. Johnson.
Four linebackers, including Nos. 1 and 3 tacklers Shaq Wilson and Reginald Bowens, are gone, leaving plenty of opportunity in the middle of South Carolina’s defense. Middle linebacker Kaiwan Lewis and weakside linebacker Cedrick Cooper are the players to watch.
The Gamecocks haven’t kicked many field goals the past two seasons, but there have been some important ones. Either Landon Ard or Nick St. Germain will hold the job this year after the departure of Adam Yates.