David Cloninger

Five storylines for South Carolina’s Garnet and Black spring game

Quarterback Brandon Mcllwain (11) is expected to take the first snaps in Saturday’s spring game.
Quarterback Brandon Mcllwain (11) is expected to take the first snaps in Saturday’s spring game. mwalsh@thestate.com

South Carolina concludes spring practice with the Garnet and Black Spring Game on Saturday. Five storylines to watch:


Who will be the Gamecocks’ quarterback? Will Muschamp has said the battle will continue into fall, which it really has to since Lorenzo Nunez (knee) and Perry Orth (collarbone) each suffered spring injuries. Brandon McIlwain and Connor Mitch are the likely top two QBs but Michael Scarnecchia could factor in. Muschamp has promised that the spring game will be as competitive as possible, so whoever performs the finest may have an edge going into fall camp.


Muschamp has made no bones about it – USC’s secondary is the worst unit on the team and there’s not a lot of hope for it to get better in Year 1. One way to protect a bad secondary is to have a great pass-rush. It would be difficult to keep everybody fresh and rotating in a blitz-every-down scheme, and the dependence on spread offenses across football make consistent sacks a problem. Still – anything has to be better than watching opposing WRs camp in the middle of the field.


The Gamecocks have no questions in the kicking game. Elliott Fry will handle PATs and Sean Kelly will punt. Yet, there are other kickers on the roster (Michael Almond, Brady Cormier, Joseph Charlton) and the spring game is the perfect time to find out if one can be a specialty long-range guy. As good as Fry has been and despite his near-assurance that he will leave as USC’s all-time leading scorer, he’s only 2-of-8 from 50 yards or more. Could USC go with one guy strictly for half-the-field kicks?


Muschamp has been high on receivers Bryan Edwards and Terry Googer but others have had trouble separating themselves. While it’s not really a problem at present (it’s spring, and USC at least has solid tight ends), the Gamecocks would like to have a crop of at least six guys they know can help out their QBs. There’s plenty of room for anybody to grab a spot – if they’re capable of it.


Will Muschamp keep the off-the-bench play? Jadeveon Clowney, Darius Rucker and Dawn Staley have each caught a TD on the Steve Spurrier standard of the spring, and it’s always a good show. Yes, there are plenty of other issues with USC football besides a meaningless play meant for the cameras, but it may be a fun aspect of the afternoon – which may perhaps be the last fun part of the coming season.

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Where: Williams-Brice Stadium

When: Noon Saturday

Admission: Free

TV: SEC Network (Bob Wischusen, Mack Brown, Shannon Spake)

Radio: 107.5 FM in the Columbia area

Also: Beginning at 11 a.m., more than 100 former Gamecock lettermen will take part in a flag football game at the north end of Williams-Brice Stadium. The football alumni will be introduced at halftime, and will participate in an hour-long autograph session on the field following the game and the playing of the alma mater.

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