South Carolina football: week 1 preview and prediction

Sep 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A South Carolina Gamecocks flag is waved. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 2, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; A South Carolina Gamecocks flag is waved. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 5
south carolina football
Kingsley Enagbare #52 of the South Carolina Gamecocks. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

South Carolina football: Week 1 preview

Key matchups

Otto Kuhns v. Gamecock secondary

Kuhns was impressive last weekend, but turnovers were the reason his team started the season 0-1. Last year, he threw four picks in four games of action, and the South Carolina secondary is hoping to feast.

The Gamecocks tallied just eight interceptions as a team in 2020, but they’re hoping a crowd of new faces will turn things around. Incoming transfers will need to prove themselves after the team lost five key contributors from last year’s defensive backfield, including first-round pick Jaycee Horn.

It looks like Marcellas Dial, Cam Smith, RJ Roderick, Jaylan Foster, and Jaylin Dickerson will man the back end, though there could be a host of players seeing action over the course of the game. If the secondary can provide a few turnovers, it could help the offense get the scoring going early.

Kevin Harris and Co. v. Panther run defense

Harris and the Gamecock running backs have to be eager to matchup with the Panthers’ defense this Saturday. Eastern Illinois gave up 172 rushing yards last weekend, and the defensive unit surrendered more than two touchdowns on the ground per game in 2020.

Harris returns to Columbia for his junior season after leading the SEC in rushing last season. MarShawn Lloyd, ZaQuandre White, Juju McDowell, and Rashad Amos will also see a ton of action.

We’re predicting that the Gamecocks eclipse the 300-yard mark as a team as the Panthers just won’t have the talent or depth to keep up at the line of scrimmage.

Gamecock DL v. Panther OL

Going back to the advantage that South Carolina has in the trenches, it should be the same on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers will face off against a projected first-round pick in Kingsley Enagbare, two five-star prospects in Jordan Burch and Zacch Pickens, the NCAAs reigning sack leader in Jordan Strachan, and much more.

The front four for the Gamecocks should be its strongest asset on defense, and with the Panthers allowing five sacks to Indiana State last week, it could be a long day on offense for Eastern Illinois. The Gamecocks only recorded 14 sacks a season ago, but that number should go way up in 2021. That starts on Saturday with the season opener.