South Carolina Football, 5 big questions for the Gamecocks:
Can the secondary be fixed?
The Gamecocks were bad on defense in 2023 until a late-season formational change sparked some life into the struggling unit. The worst part of the defense was its pass defense as the Gamecocks could not rush the passer or cover wide receivers with any consistency.
The pass rush was addressed in part through the additions of Kyle Kennard from the transfer portal and Dylan Stewart in the class of 2024. However, the secondary didn't get quite the same shot in the arm after the unit lost its best cover man in cornerback Marcellas Dial.
O'Donnell Fortune is back and likely to start at one corner, and the Gamecocks have three safeties who have been Freshman All-Americans in the past two seasons. Assuming Carolina will continue to play all three of those safeties by putting one at nickel (though that look wasn't great in 2023), that likely leaves one available starting spot in the secondary.
Young corners like Vicari Swain, Emory Floyd, Judge Collier, and Jalewis Solomon could all factor into that job.
Is a secondary that struggled last year, returns four starters, and replaces the best man cover guy with a young player actually an upgrade, though? It could be an upgrade if Nick Emmanwori is left alone to play safety instead of nickel and if OD Fortune can play more consistently.
However, if the Gamecocks can bring in a veteran starter at corner, the defense will be in a much better place.