1. South Carolina went 9-4 three seasons ago, 7-6 two seasons ago and a whopping 4-8 a season ago. In the midst of a shortened season, do you think Will Muschamp has the chops to turn the ship around with what he has now?
Julian Mitchell: I believe we can see this team playing better, but having 10 SEC games won’t do the Gamecocks any favors. Winning only four games again shouldn’t be viewed as a huge disappointment given the circumstances. Seems like I’ve been saying it for five years now, but if the Gamecocks can finally establish a decent rushing attack, they can make some noise.
Chris Novak: Tend to agree with Julian. The non-cons (who aren’t Clemson) likely would’ve been able to benefit the team. But the margin for error in a 10-game schedule is so thin, and I’m not sure if they can swim move their way through to have a better record by percentage at least.
Robert O’Neill: It’s interesting because normally this would be a sink or swim season for a coach but it’s tough to put that caveat on this season for numerous reasons. With that being said, I agree with Chris and Julian in that having ten games, all of which are in-conference, will be a tough hill to climb for a Gamecocks team with a new quarterback.
2. Jake Bentley is no longer with the Gamecocks, as Collin Hill will be starting for the team this year. How do you see Hill doing in 2020?
Julian Mitchell: Colin Hill put up some decent numbers at Colorado State, completing just over 60 percent of his passes there. But this ain’t the Mountain West. It will be an adjustment, but having his former head coach as offensive coordinator will be beneficial. I don’t see him playing poorly, but I think he could have a short leash with Ryan Hillinski still there along with highly touted freshman, Luke Doty. Time will Tell.
Chris Novak: Doty will definitely be waiting in the wings, but I figure Hill will do pretty well. Though he’s going to be facing markedly better defenses than he did at Colorado State, I think he’s got it in him to be more than competent under center. But I may be more optimistic than some.
Robert O’Neill: I think Hill will be good but the tougher defenses and weird season will definitely play a part here.
3. South Carolina was pretty average and pedestrian on defense in 2019. Do you see any sort of upward trajectory coming their way this go-around?
Julian Mitchell: With seven returning starters, I think the D will certainly start to find their footing in 2020. There are some HUGE losses up front, however with Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith and D.J Wonnum departing. I can see the pass defense improving, but the run defense suffering at times. The defense could be slightly better due to the secondary having more experience, but I think it will prove to be mostly a wash.
Chris Novak: Losing Javon Kinlaw will absolutely sting. Kinlaw was awesome in 2019 and replacing him will not be an easy task. However, that being said more experience for some may help this team out a bit. I think they will end up hovering around the marks they had this year, with some margin to either flow upward or slightly downward.
Robert O’Neill: Echoing Chris and Julian, I think the defense will stay about the same. They improved in some regards and regressed in some. It definitely helps to be able to return so many starters, as that’s not a luxury every SEC defense has.
4. Who is a player you feel has the chance to break out for the Gamecocks in 2020?
Julian Mitchell: Five star freshman DE, Jordan Burch. There’s not quite Clowney levels of hype surrounding the local Columbia product, but he should make an instant impact.
Chris Novak: Have to agree about Burch. He is really damn good.
Robert O’Neill: Just to be different and optimistic for the Gamecocks, I’ll go with Colin Hill.
5. Give your prediction for the Gamecocks in 2020.
Julian Mitchell: 3-7 (with Ole Miss being a huge swing game and potential 4th win)
Chris Novak: 4-6
Robert O’Neill: 4-6.