4 Unanswered Questions Heading into South Carolina's Spring Game
It's almost time for the Gamecocks' football season to really get back on the radar as South Carolina's spring game approaches.
This Saturday, the Gamecocks will showcase how they have progressed throughout the spring in the Garnet and Black game.
While the team has made long strides this spring, there are still some unanswered questions lingering around this football team.
These questions have been the persistent topics throughout the offseason, and some could get answered during the spring game.
Here are the four unanswered questions heading into South Carolina's spring game.
1. Who Will Be the Backup Quarterback?
I addressed this question last week, and there isn't any clearer of an answer.
Brendan Nosovitch is still disappointing with the capabilities of his arm. He has the athleticism and the command of an offense, but he hasn't been able to make the throws. A quarterback who cannot make the throws isn't one that a coach will put a lot of faith in.
With Dylan Thompson slated as the starter, the Gamecocks are still looking for a reliable backup to emerge. The competition is now between Perry Orth and Connor Mitch.
Orth is the walk-on everyone can root for, because few expected him to make it this far. He throws the ball well and with confidence, in addition to showing that he is an extremely coachable player.
Mitch is the big-potential player. He is the quarterback of the future, and his future may be budding right now. He has all of the intangibles to be a successful quarterback, and he is close to being the outright backup as I see him having an edge on Orth.
The battle is still heating up, and whoever lands the backup job gains the inside track at being the starter in 2015, so a lot is at stake.
2. Will Mike Matulis Solidify His Starting Position?
Early this spring, Na'Ty Rodgers had the advantage to win the starting right guard job, though an off-field incident and a question of character opened up the position to the rest of the offensive line.
With the right guard position consisting of mainly redesignated offensive tackles, Mike Matulis has now emerged as the man for the job.
Matulis is finally healthy after battling injuries for the past couple of seasons. He offers more experience as he has been with the team for a few years now.
With Cody Waldrop set to be the starting center, Matulis had a clear path to the starting nod, and he seized the opportunity.
The Gamecocks have an experienced, powerful group of linemen who look to be one of the strongest units on the team. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott "feels comfortable" with Matulis, according to Dwayne McLemore of GoGamecocks.com.
The offensive line isn't set in stone with regards to the starters, but Matulis looks to be Elliott's guy for the season.
3. How Much Has the Defensive Line Progressed?
The biggest concern outside of cornerback was the progression of the defensive line. No one lacks talent or skill on the Gamecocks defensive front, but physicality came into question.
With a slew of fast, long, slender speed-rushers, South Carolina's defensive linemen got to work this spring by adding on pounds and muscle to compete at a higher level this fall.
Darius English and Cedrick Cooper have spent a ton of time in the weight room bulking up their frames. Mason Harris is also getting more physical, which is a must for him and the team.
On the interior of the line, J.T. Surratt leads the way with his experience, but the other starting tackle spot is up for grabs in addition to the top spots in the defensive rotation.
It will be interesting to see the progress Abu Lamin, Kelsey Griffin and Deon Green have made and whether they can use the spring game to jockey for a better chance of landing a higher spot on the roster.
4. Where Will Players Be in the Secondary?
The South Carolina squad of cornerbacks has been the biggest question throughout the offseason.
No Victor Hampton. No Jimmy Legree. No Ahmad Christian. So who is going to be playing at cornerback?
Rico McWilliams looks like the only player with a somewhat solid spot as he is the lone returning scholarship cornerback. There are a few freshmen joining the team this summer, but right now, the Gamecocks are experimenting with moving players around.
Brison Williams is showing his versatility with his move to cornerback this spring to provide depth, but he has the chance to move up into a bigger role.
At safety, South Carolina doesn't lack depth. The "Spur" linebacker slot is up for grabs as Jordan Diggs and Sharrod Golightly will battle it out right up until the start of the season.
Most eyes will be on the secondary, specifically the cornerbacks, to see what progress has been made and where guys will be playing as it could be a clue to what the defense will look like this fall.