When USC fields its kickoffs rom Kentucky, the big question concerns Deebo Samuel and how many times the Wildcats will test their special teams.
Samuel has returned kickoffs for touchdowns in the first two games of the season, both helping the Gamecocks to victories. Deebo now has the school record for career kickoff returns for scores (3). The Wildcats hope number four doesn't happen Saturday night or else the sold-out crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium will be rocking.
Head coach Will Muschamp says Samuel's success on special teams can be traced to the simple fundamentals.
"I think the team has been blocking well," Muschamp said.
"I’ve looked back at Kiel Pollard, Javon Charleston, Chavis Dawkins, Evan Hinson, and Antoine Wilder. We’ve had some guys that have made some key blocks to spring Deebo and create a one-on-one, which he’s going to win a lot of those in space. I think we’ve done a nice job blocking up front in the execution of the return as much as anything."
Samuel's ability to score either at receiver, as a quasi-running back or on special teams has made him a leading candidate for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to college football's most versatile player. There is even some whispers that Samuel could start getting some Heisman hype - especially if he continues to perform and the team continues to win.
"I don’t know what else is out there, but I know the impact he’s had on our football team in two ballgames," said Muschamp.
"Absolutely. That’s not a big working sample, but at the end of the day, in two ballgames, I don’t know anyone’s an impact to the game more than he has for us in two ballgames."