Ahead of Saturday’s game against South Carolina, we asked a few questions of Kody Timmers, one of the managers at South Carolina’s SB Nation blog Garnet and Black Attack. Kody’s answers are below.
1. South Carolina is 0-2 after losses to Florida and Tennessee. What’s the feeling around the fan base about the team this year?
Not good, Bob! There are basically three factions right now: the apathetic, the angry, and the nonetheless optimistic. That latter contingent, as you might expect, is the smallest, especially after the 0-2 start. There’s a fair amount of crossover between angry and apathetic folks too, but there’s a growing sense that South Carolina is losing the fans, which is quite possibly the worst situation to be in as an athletic program. A lot of Gamecock fans are flat out choosing to spend their Saturdays away from the TV, while others seem to just be going through the motions when they watch and not experiencing much in the way of emotion. To loosely paraphrase Lou Holtz, things are never as good as they seem or as bad as they seem; I don’t think this team is going winless, though I do think three wins is USC’s realistic ceiling. It’s just hard for anyone to get excited about that, especially since the athletic director seems very attached to Will Muschamp — and any coaching moves are likely out of the question with how the pandemic has ravaged revenue.
2. Colin Hill beat out Ryan Hilinski for the starting job in camp and his numbers through two games look pretty good. Does he have a firm hold on the job, or might we see Hilinski at some point?
Collin Hill’s been a bit of an enigma. Depending on who you ask, he’s either doing an admirable job while making some nice plays or is absolutely not going to cut it as the starter. For right now, though, he’s pretty entrenched if for no other reason than his familiarity with Mike Bobo’s playbook. As the season progresses, however, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan Hilinski work his way back into the mix, especially since Hill has an unfortunate history of injuries (three ACL tears!). The biggest concern here is honestly the offensive line, which has seen some early struggles and isn’t currently set up for a pocket-passing quarterback to succeed.
3. Who are the star players to look out for on the Gamecock defense?
Well, I’d say veteran defensive backs Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu are on that list, but they’ve had a bit of a tough go so far in giving up some explosive passing plays. (In fairness, I don’t want to rip on them too much for Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts sonning them, because that’s going to happen to most teams Florida plays this year.) The defensive line is an area of strength for South Carolina, with solid veterans like Aaron Sterling and Kingsley Enagbare teamed up with youngsters like Zacch Pickens, who seems to really be coming on. I’ll definitely be watching both of those units with interest against a young and inexperienced quarterback.
4. If I told you that one (and only one) of Will Muschamp and Derek Mason will be fired at the end of the season, which will it be and why?
It’s gonna have to be Mason. Muschamp (in)famously has an absolutely insane buyout, which was hard to stomach in prosperous times and has got to be completely off the table in a crushing recession that has seen several athletic departments cut sports and staff. (For the record, South Carolina hasn’t had to do any of that, which is great — but it would definitely need to rally its big money boosters to move Muschamp along regardless.) Complicating this is the fact that our aforementioned athletic director seems very enamored with Muschamp, and as a former coach himself, is very much a coach’s AD. By all appearances, it’s going to take a lot for Muschamp to truly land on the hot seat — this season is almost certainly a mulligan with everything going on, so the working assumption is that 2022 is the earliest we’d see a different coach on the sidelines.
5. Finally, predict a score for the game.
Given our desperate need for a win and the seemingly favorable matchup against Vandy’s true freshman quarterback and porous run defense, I’m going to go with South Carolina here. A blowout would be chicken soup for the soul, but given the weirdness of the season and the history of this series, I would absolutely not be surprised if both teams turned in one of those classic 21-17 type slobberknockers. I guess I’ll split the difference and go with 28-14.