As part of SB Nation, we've got access to experts who cover just about every FBS college football team out there. Garnet and Black Attack's James Shahid answered some of our questions about the Gamecocks:
1. Much has been made of Steve Spurrier's comments about only coaching 2-3 more years, and how that statement supposedly hurt recruiting. Do you think that it did, in fact, do so?
Absolutely. When I first heard Spurrier made those comments I didn't think much of it. In fact, I thought he was just telling the truth. It seems completely reasonable for him to coach three more years and hang it up. But, ever since that comment, and the residual de-commitments of a few key recruits, he's been fighting off the critics, skeptics and recruits, and the start to this season hasn't helped. I don't think there is one main reason the Gamecocks have struggled the past 16 games, but there's clearly a lack of talent here compared to those 11-2 seasons, and that basically falls on recruiting.
2. Seriously though, how long do you guess he's going to be coaching -- and is it an answer Gamecocks fans are happy with?
I, much like anyone else, have no idea. And honestly, I don't think Spurrier does either. Should this team carry on it's struggles from last year throughout this season, as it seems it could at this point, I could see him retire at the end of this year. But, he could also do this thing for 5,6,7 more years.
(He had a recent comment after Thursday's practice: "I got three more years on my contract and it pays pretty good, so we're not planning on tossing in the towel.")
As for the fan base, I think it varies. There's fans out there who have been saying he's washed up even during that historic run, and there's also those fans who believe everything the man does or says is gold. This week is about as negative it's been around here as I can remember, so if there ever was a breaking point, it could be this season.
I think the main issue with the whole thing is in all likelihood, Spurrier will have the final say. It'll be tough for Ray Tanner, the AD, to muster up the guts to force him out.
3. What should Knights fans expect to see from your freshman QB Nunez?
A run heavy attack that throws in some wildcat. Coming into the fall, the coaches have had to simplify the passing playbook as much as possible for Nunez, so don't expect anything to complicated coming out of the Gamecocks offense. Nunez is a big, athletic dude, so look for him to take off and run when there's an opening and refer to his check down. The tight ends could have a big game.
4. Who on defense should worry Knights fans the most?
Ha. The sarcastic side of me screams NO ONE after watching Greyson Lambert set and NCAA passing record against us. Skai Moore is the anchor though at linebacker. It looks like he may get moved over from his typical strong side position to the weak side, but look for him to be around the ball almost every play.
Marquavius Lewis is a JUCO DE fans had high hopes for, but he hasn't produced of yet, he could be due for a couple breakout sacks.
5. What vulnerability are you most concerned about the Knights exploiting (or at least, trying to exploit)?
Our banged up offense. Starting a true freshman at quarterback is scary enough in its self, but when you couple that with a true freshman center filling in for Alan Knott, both making their first starts, things are bound to get risky. Senior tailback Brandon Wilds and RS Freshman Deebo Samuel will also miss the game, so it'll be up to some other guys to step up in their place.