COLUMBIA — South Carolina was on the road for the first two weeks last season, but returned home 2-0.
With three straight home games to start this year, the Gamecocks are hoping to take a 3-0 record on their first road trip.
What are the indicators of a successful season that will be obtained from the first two games, hosting Coastal Carolina and Georgia?
A good sign if …
• The up-tempo offense that Bryan McClendon installed works right away, with the Chanticleers unable to keep up with the pace. USC also avoids false starts and other procedure penalties as it smoothly slips into gear.
• Coastal is down early and decides to take its check and leave. USC has had trouble putting smaller teams away in the past and a blowout victory in Week 1 would be comforting.
• Jake Bentley hits his first receiver in stride, right in the hands, the way he did Shi Smith in the Outback Bowl last year. That was the best pass he’s thrown as a Gamecock.
A bad sign if ….
• If Coastal’s running backs are moving unchecked through USC’s defense, how are the Gamecocks going to stop Georgia’s backs? Their plan of forcing Bulldogs QB Jake Fromm to beat them by himself will be quickly cast aside.
• For whatever reason, Bentley has been skittish in his first quarters against big-time opponents. Completions have been there but Bentley has overthrown his receivers several times. If a receiver is air-mailed against Georgia early, it could be a long day.
• If Deebo Samuel or Rico Dowdle start to limp or have to come off the field, the lumps in throats will be seen from space. The Gamecocks simply can’t afford to have their two most dynamic playmakers miss any time if they expect to contend for a championship.