South Carolina's 2018 football season begins Sept. 1 against Coastal Carolina in Williams-Brice Stadium. It will be the most highly anticipated season of the Will Muschamp era, but there are some reasons for concern.
Here are the top three:
The running game
The Gamecocks have finished 12th and 13th in rushing in the SEC the last two years. Nothing Bryan McClendon or new quarterbacks coach Dan Werner add to the offense will help unless the running game becomes more of a threat. This year, South Carolina’s system will increase the odds for their running backs by using run-pass option plays, Werner said, but A.J. Turner, Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, and, maybe, Mon Denson, still have to get the between-the-tackles yards that set up everything else.
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Muschamp, who doubles as the team’s safeties coach, probably won't ever say he’s happy with his secondary, but it’s worth paying attention to how vocal he has been about his concern since last season ended. Trying Jamyest Williams at safety seems not necessarily a desperation move but probably something the Gamecocks wish they didn’t have to do. That and their shopping spree on the graduate transfer safety market speak to the fact that Steven Montac is the only proven player at the position on the roster.
Top two rivals
If South Carolina finishes the regular season 10-2, fans should do cartwheels. However, it understandably could take some shine off that mark if those two losses are by sizable margins against their two biggest rivals. The Gamecocks are unquestionably making marked progress under this coaching staff, but they still have to stomach the fact that their two most-hated enemies — Clemson and Georgia — are among the nation’s elite at the moment. It shouldn’t take away from the happiness of South Carolina fans, but you can understand why it does.
SOUTH CAROLINA 2018 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sept. 1 Coastal Carolina, noon (SEC Network)
Sept. 8 Georgia*, 3:30 pm (CBS)
Sept. 15 Marshall, 7:30 pm (ESPNU)
Sept. 22 at Vanderbilt*
Sept. 29 at Kentucky*
Oct. 6 Missouri*
Oct. 13 Texas A&M*
Oct. 27 Tennessee*
Nov. 3 at Ole Miss*
Nov. 10 at Florida*
Nov. 17 Chattanooga
Nov. 24 at Clemson