The game: Nov. 10 in The Swamp
Last year’s result: South Carolina rolled up 469 yards of total offense and stifled the Florida running game, holding the Gators to 78 yards rushing, to lead Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks to a 28-20 victory in Columbia.
Key players returning: QB Jake Bentley (2,794 passing and 18 TDs in 2017), WR Deebo Samuel, WR Bryan Edwards (64 receptions for 793 yards and five touchdowns), LB Bryson Allen-Williams, LB T.J. Brunson, DE D.J. Wonnum.
Key losses: TE Hayden Hurst (44 receptions for 559 yards and two TDs), LB Skai Moore, DB Chris Lammons, DT Taylor Stallworth, S D.J. Smith.
Scouting the offense: The big news is that electric wide receiver Deebo Samuel is back after missing most of last season with a leg injury. He was on his way to a huge year — six touchdown receptions in less than three games — before being sidelined. Pair him with junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards and quarterback Jake Bentley has two of the best receivers in the SEC to throw to. The question is can the Gamecocks generate a steady rushing attack, where they struggled last season? They will try to do it with a line that returns three starters and junior running back Rico Dowdle, who rushed for rushed for 251 yards in 2017.
Scouting the defense: The Gamecocks were vulnerable in the secondary last season and that trend could continue. Top cover man, cornerback Chris Lammons, is gone and the Gamecocks must replace two other starters in the secondary. USC should be solid against the run, led by ends D.J. Wonnum and Keir Thomas and linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams.
Scouting the special teams: The return game could be lethal with the return of Samuel, who is a game-breaker. Starting kicker Parker White is back, but he converted only 14 of 25 field goal attempts last season and will have to battle to hold onto his job. Punter Joseph Charlton is solid.
“I think as much as anything, whether it is dealing with a player issue, you know, staff issue, play to your strengths. At the end of the day, I’m a good defensive football coach. I’m a good special teams coach, and I can recruit. I think you’ve got to stay in your lane as far as those things are concerned and move forward and that’s what we’ve done.” — Will Muschamp on what he learned at Florida