Bryan McClendon on how USC’s offensive playbook has evolved, what he sees in UNC
The South Carolina football team is done with training camp, so it’s a good time to look at what the depth chart might look like as the team transitions to preparing for the Aug. 31 opener against North Carolina.
The Gamecocks coaches and players have talked about who has stood out, giving a hint at how things might fall.
No. 1 Jake Bentley
No. 2 Ryan Hilinski
No. 3 Dakereon Joyner
It’s hard to see anyone unseating Bentley, even with some struggles with consistency. Hilinski was picked as the No. 2 already with Joyner at No. 3. It leaves questions of whether Joyner will possibly change positions or perhaps transfer out.
No. 1 Mon Denson
No. 2 Tavien Feaster
No. 3 Rico Dowdle
This is more to reflect who likely starts against UNC than how carries are divided up. Feaster is playing his way into shape after transferring from Clemson, while Dowdle is dealing with a nagging bone bruise. This doesn’t mean that those two won’t ultimately end up the team’s workhorse backs. It does mean that early on, Denson will likely get at least some work as the other two round into being healthy.
No. 1 Shi Smith, OrTre Smith, Bryan Edwards
No. 2 Josh Vann, Randrecous Davis, Chavis Dawkins
No. 3 Chad Terrell, Xavier Legette
That top three group is both experienced and productive. Edwards is chasing some all-time records, and Shi Smith has been starting since his first game. OrTre Smith was hurt last year, but has Edwards-esque skills. Behind them, Vann had a freshman year that disappointed at times, but coaches raved about his training camp. Davis and Dawkins are seasoned veterans and Legette has been praised as explosive.
No. 1 Kyle Markway
No. 2 Will Register
This group is a question mark and suddenly thin. Kiel Pollard, a presumptive starter, is done with football, while Evan Hinson will miss the start of the season. That takes the two best receiving threats out of the mix. Markway, as a veteran, will have to do a lot. Register is a player who will have to make a big jump. The freshmen are Traevon Kenion and KeShawn Toney. Kenion missed much of camp, so a lot might be on Toney. This group would get a big boost if transfer Nick Muse was ruled eligible to play this year by the NCAA.
No. 1 Sadarius Hutcherson, Dylan Wonnum
No. 2 Jakai Moore, Jaylin Nichols
No. 3 Eric Douglas
Those top two are pretty solid — both big, quick, athletic guys with high ceilings. Reviews of Hutcherson have been that he’s solid, and Wonnum was good enough to start as a true freshman. Douglas is likely the most seasoned option to replace either, but he’s also backing up everyone on the line. Moore and Nichols both have the talent and ability, but it’s rare for true freshman linemen to get much action.
No. 1 Donell Stanley, Eric Douglas
No. 2 Jovaughn Gwyn, Jordan Rhodes
This might be the deepest and most flexible spot along the line. Either of the backups could in theory step in as starters. Stanley can back up any of the interior spots and Douglas could back up any of the spots. But those two should be solid if nothing else.
No. 1 Hank Manos
No. 2 Eric Douglas
No. 3 Donell Stanley
It sounds as if Manos has that spot locked down, which is good news considering the other center options are key backups elsewhere. Eric Wolford likes to have a lot of options who can snap, and he’ll have them this season.
Buck defensive end
No. 1 DJ Wonnum
No. 2 Brad Johnson
No. 3 Daniel Fennell
This is basically the same group the team had going into last year, give or take Bryson Allen-Williams eventually taking over the position. Wonnum has the potential to be a star if he’s healthy all season. Johnson has yet to fully display his ability. Fennell is a steady presence.
No. 1 Kingsley Enagbare
No. 2 Aaron Sterling
No. 3 Keir Thomas
Sterling is a returning starter, but Enagbare likely offers more size and upside. Sterling is a solid second option, a hard worker with some pass-rush pop. Thomas has been a reliable player inside and outside for years, and could well see a big role depending on how things shake out. Watch out for freshman Joseph Anderson as well.
No. 1 Javon Kinalw, Kobe Smith
No. 2 Rick Sandidge, Keir Thomas
No. 3 Zacch Pickens, Jabari Ellis
This is a spot where the Gamecocks are set to have a lot of very good guys. Kinlaw could be a star. Sandidge has nice upside. Smith and Thomas are solid, and Pickens was a top 10 recruit who showed a lot in camp. In short, there will be options.
No. 1 Ernest Jones
No. 2 T.J. Brunson
No. 3 Derek Boykins
This position shows just how much cross training the staff has been doing in the back end of the defense. Jones has impressed in a big way, enough to let Brunson slide over to the weakside starting spot. Sherrod Greene and Rosendo Louis could probably get involved here.
No. 1 T.J. Brunson
No. 2 Sherrod Greene
No. 3 Eldridge Thompson
Brunson moves over from the middle, where he started the past two seasons. It’ll be interesting to see how he performs as a player asked to play more in space. Greene gets the No. 2 nod because he started there last year, while Thompson has a lot of coverage ability. Also, don’t sleep on Jahmar Brown, a freshman who impressed all camp.
No. 1 Sherrod Greene
No. 2 Eldridge Thompson
No. 3 Rosendo Louis
This position is a wildcard because it can be almost anything. Greene and Louis are sturdy. Thompson offers some versatility. Daniel Fennell brings pass rush with some linebacker skill. Brown could resurface here, too. Considering USC has a smattering of teams that play two backs or two tight ends on the roster, this position could be used a bit more than in past years.
No. 1 Israel Mukuamu, Jaycee Horn
No. 2 A.J. Turner, John Dixon
No. 3 Cam Smith
This group is top-heavy, with Horn and Mukuamu possibly having the ability to be among the best corner duos in the SEC. Turner only returned to defensive back late last fall, but the staff seems to trust him a good bit. The question will be depth, and really what Dixon and Smith can show this year. Both are pretty talented, but there’s still a college learning curve.
No. 1 Jammie Robinson
No. 2 R.J. Roderick
No. 3 Jaycee Horn
Robinson has been a star in camp, getting praise just about any time someone asks about him. USC has run out true freshmen at nickel the past two seasons, and it could well continue. Roderick was a player the staff hoped to move here, but it seems safety might need him more (in theory, he and Robinson could switch at times). Horn and Jamyest Williams played there the past two years, and at least provide some interesting options.
No. 1 R.J. Roderick, Jamyest Williams
No. 2 J.T. Ibe, Jammie Robinson
No. 3 Jamel Cook, Shilo Sanders
This is where things get interesting. Roderick is a staple, a hard hitter and reliable. Ibe might get the nod had he not been battling a pec injury all August. Williams has been working a long time to reach the potential folks felt he had, and we’ll pencil him in to start, with Ibe as essentially a top rotation guy. After that, there are a few questions. Robinson might be capable, but nickel might call him. Jamel Cook has a lot of ability, but there hasn’t been much discussion of him during camp. Sanders moved here from corner and is just a young guy looking to get his feet wet.
No. 1 Bryan Edwards
No. 2 Shi Smith
Edwards was the guy last year, and even after special teams coach Coleman Hutzler said that could be more open, Muschamp said he still expects Edwards to do the job. He was a solid presence and occasionally showed the ability to break one, so the staff still has faith that could come.
No. 1 Shi Smith
No. 2 A.J. Turner
Turner spent most of last year throwing blocks for Deebo Samuel. The coaches said he’s the No. 1 guy here, and that might turn out to be the case, but don’t sleep on Smith as a shifty, explosive guy getting some work. He’s not Deebo (no one is), but he has some ability to move.
No. 1 Joseph Charlton
No. 2 Christian Kinsley
Charlton is a guy with All-SEC ability and should have this locked down as long as he’s upright. Kinsley punted 56 times across two years at Kennesaw State.
No. 1 Parker White
No. 2 Alex Woznick
White earned the job last season by being accurate inside the 40-yard range. He might have the leg for more, and he’s clearly the guy ahead of Woznick, who struggled when given the job at the start of 2017.