Commentary: USC is deep and talented on offense

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on April 12, 2014 

“I’ve seen the future, and it works.” – Prince

OK, so it comes with an asterisk. “If Dylan Thompson stays healthy … “*

The only question South Carolina’s offense faces going into the 2014 season is how well it can play without Thompson under center. If he stays healthy and is quarterbacking the Gamecocks for the majority of every game, the asterisk is removed and it’s watch out, record books.

USC is stacked on offense. Stacked like a column of books in the New York Public Library that causes Dr. Ray Stantz to stare in wonder. The Gamecocks have so much experience on the line and so many playmakers that it’s easy to second Paul Finebaum’s prediction on Saturday – this team will win the SEC East.

Thompson is head and shoulders above the other quarterbacks and knows it. That’s not arrogance – he has prepared for this since he came in and knows it’s his turn. With Thompson flinging passes to Damiere Byrd, Nick Jones, Shaq Roland and Jerell Adams, the Gamecocks can make secondaries queasy.

“Third and short, turn around and hand it to this guy,” Thompson said, motioning to tailback Mike Davis. “Wideout, it’s whatever name you want to pick. Just my job to get them the ball in space and do what I can.”

The running back stable is ridiculously deep and talented, led by Heisman Trophy candidate Davis and the multi-purpose Brandon Wilds. Shon Carson is one of the quickest players in the league and the fourth-string guy, David Williams, was the best player on the field on Saturday. It might be the spring game, but Williams sat out the majority of spring practice with a bad hamstring, then returned to post 35 rushing yards, 16 receiving yards and two touchdowns on Saturday.

“It felt good to be back out there in a game-like situation,” Williams said. “I feel good. If I keep coming out, doing what I’ve been doing all spring, hopefully, I can touch the field.”

The offensive line lost one starter and features future NFL players A.J. Cann, Brandon Shell and Corey Robinson. Mike Matulis, if he can keep those problem shoulders intact, has blossomed into a right guard and brings with him a lot of years in the trenches.

“I tell you what’s the most dangerous is the offensive line,” Davis said. “All those guys, they’ve done a great job up front. They’re giving us the ability to do what we can.”

It’s the spring, so Steve Spurrier wasn’t going to trumpet the offense too loudly. The defense went basic, QBs weren’t going to get sacked, etc.

But even he admitted that USC has a lot of experience on the offensive side of the ball, and a lot of looks to throw at opponents.

“I think we have a chance to be a good team. Again, we’ve got to go play,” he said. “We have, approximately, 20 or 22 fifth- or fourth-year players. We can go bad or we can go good. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

The waiting – and offseason working – begins now. Carson and Rory Anderson sustained injuries this spring and the Gamecocks will have to see how they recover.

Yet, it’s refreshing to know that even with those two hurt, the Gamecocks have so much more with which to work. When the career backups and walk-ons were taking snaps in the second quarter of the spring game because the starters are already known and protected, expectation has already become half of reality.

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