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September 2, 2010

Five Questions Going Forward

USC-Southern Miss Game Week Sponsored by rTailgate.com

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SOUTH CAROLINA 41, SOUTHERN MISS 13

FIVE QUESTIONS FOR NEXT WEEK

1. Is the NCAA investigation over and done with?
Hard to say. Although Jarriel King and Chris Culliver were the only ones to miss the game after it appeared there would be several more, neither Steve Spurrier or Ellis Johnson knew for sure if it was over. Several players were cleared to play just before the game but who knows -- the NCAA may decide those players need to be punished after all. Spurrier said the investigation is still going on with "a couple of guys" and he hopes for it to be resolved in the next couple of days, while Johnson said he didn't know if Culliver would be back for Georgia. Akeem Auguste, one of the players involved who was cleared, said he was acting under the assumption that if he was cleared for Thursday, he was cleared for the season.

2. Did Stephen Garcia cement the starting role?
He surely didn't do anything to lose it. He played the great majority of the first half, taking care of the ball and avoiding sacks while managing to look very good running and throwing the ball. Yes, Connor Shaw played, but it was only after Garcia staked the Gamecocks to a comfortable 24-6 lead in the second quarter.

3. Is the Gamecocks' offense finally what Steve Spurrier wants it to be?
For the first time at USC, Spurrier was frustrated in that good way. The only thing he could find to complain about was not scoring 50 points. The Gamecocks rushed 35 times and passed 30 times, and looked effective on almost every one, outside of a rough first series. They got to showcase several of their weapons and several of their tricks, such as Ace Sanders' reverse and Stephon Gilmore taking two snaps as quarterback in the "Wild Cock" formation.

4. Can the defense get past its thin depth?
Although the Gamecocks only gave up 13 points, they allowed it on 404 yards. That doesn't seem that bad, considering the point total and the fact that Southern Miss screened and optioned its way downfield, but Ellis Johnson is a perfectionist. Much of it was because of the depth -- Akeem Auguste and Gilmore each played with no backup and there is no telling when Shaq Wilson and Antonio Allen each with a hamstring pull, will be back. Additionally, D.J. Swearinger has a mild concussion and he may be out for a while. Nothing can rush the healing process, but at least there are a couple of extra days to get better before Georgia.

5. Can this performance be mimicked against the Bulldogs?
Another question with no immediate answer. The Georgia game is always the tricky one. Last year, USC scored seven points in the season-opener and 37 against the Bulldogs on the road. It seemed as if Spurrier was trying to give Georgia several looks to prepare for with his offensive plans, and that worked, but USC has to execute it. By dodging the NCAA bullet for the first game, USC was able to play most of its game. If that stays the same for next week, there is no reason the Gamecocks can't do it again; they just have to execute it.



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