David Cloninger

The worst-case scenario for South Carolina football in 2016

The worst case scenario for USC in 2016. Check out the best case here.


Perry Orth, Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley end the season with about the same number of game reps. Nobody takes hold of the job, the offense is a flustered mess trying to adjust to three different quarterbacks (sometimes in the flow of one game) and the 2017 season is set up to be worse.

McIlwain and Bentley each came to play. They’re each freshmen. Both of them are irritated by the constant switching of 2016 and want assurances they’ll start in 2017, but only one will get the job. One decides to take advantage of the transfer market and the other has wasted a year of development.


The Gamecocks’ offensive futility is strengthened by no running game to speak of. David Williams continues to trip over the yard lines, the freshmen can’t get through the miniscule holes the offensive line creates and further pressure is heaped on the ever-changing QB role.

Even though he didn’t have much talent to work with coming in, the familiar questions of Will Muschamp’s ability to coach an offense rise. It’s a dark cloud that continues to hover over the recruiting cycle and the next two seasons.


Any time one freshman starts to really produce and offer a spark for the future, an injury takes him out. The Gamecocks qualify for their own wing at Palmetto Health as player after player comes up lame, with five or six suffering season-ending injuries.

USC was limited in depth before the year and is forced to play walk-ons and practice-squad members, mimicking the 2015 season.


The Gamecocks still haven’t found the cord that plugs in the big blinking sign of the past two years – “Throw in the middle of the field.” Opposing quarterbacks do whatever they want against USC’s soft coverages, picking apart the secondary and adding more quarterbacks to the list of one-hit wonders, with that one hit always against the Gamecocks.

With no one there to cover that space, USC’s pass-rushers can’t get to the quarterback in time to disrupt him. Blowouts become the norm.


USC falls in Nashville to start the season and just misses a win in Starkville the next week. They see redemption in their first home game against East Carolina – and the Pirates pull the upset.

Any confidence is gone and the Gamecocks stagger through a miserable season, managing to beat Massachusetts and Western Carolina, but unable to win a conference game. USC trudges to Clemson at 2-9, and the national-champs-to-be Tigers make 63-17 seem kind.

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