David Cloninger

Camp Insider: For USC, questions can lead to surprising answers

Gamecocks quarterback Connor Mitch
Gamecocks quarterback Connor Mitch Special to The State

I’ve known it all preseason and am still amazed.

When South Carolina starts a new season on Thursday, it really starts a new season.

Some starters have been around but haven’t played much, quarterback Connor Mitch being the main one. Many are guys who haven’t been at USC.

I’m sure if the Gamecocks could hop in Mr. Peabody’s Way-Back Machine, they would have gotten Mitch more snaps, or re-evaluated some recruits that they planned to have here now. And they would have scheduled an easier opponent than North Carolina to start.

Of course they can’t, and while it’s not any kind of indicator of how the season will go (Some kids are “gamers,” where you never see what they can really do until they get on the field. Alshon Jeffery being a prime example), USC will be answering questions week to week.

In addition to a new quarterback, four of the top six receivers are new or haven’t played much. Three of the five offensive line starters list as: New position; injured and played two games in two years; several games but sparse action at his spot.

The two defensive ends are a JUCO guy and a talented player who also has spent most of his career wearing bandages. Newbie at strong safety, and a new guy calling the defensive shots. There are many experienced players, but all are adjusting to a new system.

And don’t forget replacements at punter, holder and long snapper. Don’t matter as much? If they mess up in a game it will.

Still, they all have one thing in common. They’re all here, all under the most important holdover — an ageless coach who is often at his best when people count him out. Steve Spurrier has never been one to lament the guys he doesn’t have, and has surprised with the ones he does.

A lot of times, questions lead to surprising answers.