HOOVER, Ala. -- When you look around the SEC East, there are plenty of higher profile teams that demand your attention.
Then, there's the afterthought -- South Carolina.
It might not be that way for long, though. In Year 2 under coach Will Muschamp, the Gamecocks are poised to be the division's ultimate spoiler because of their offense.
That sounds crazy considering Muschamp's offensive woes during his four-year stint at Florida from 2011-2014, but the Gamecocks -- and Muschamp himself -- have the right ingredients to create a delicious recipe. That recipe includes sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley, slot threat Deebo Samuel (783 receiving yards), true sophomore and matchup nightmare Bryan Edwards (590 receiving yards), versatile tight end Hayden Hurst (616 receiving yards) and sophomore running back Rico Dowdle (764 rushing yards).
That core group was instrumental in the Birmingham Bowl loss to South Florida. Despite that defeat, they orchestrated a 15-point, fourth quarter comeback to force overtime, racking up 481 yards and 6.25 per play.
"That game has been really big for us," Bentley said. "It showed us that we are capable of anything. We lost one starter off the offense of that team. We're capable of a lot and that game taught me a lot."
Bentley had his redshirt burned in the middle of last season, threw nine touchdowns with only four picks and completed 65.8 percent of his passes. Not bad for a guy who reclassified up to the class of 2016 in high school, and should have been playing on Friday nights instead of Saturdays.
"It's like drinking water out of a firehose," Muschamp said when asked about how different it is with sophomore quarterbacks. "We're moving fast. The installation, we're going to install this day. You know what we're going to do tomorrow? We're going to install again. The next day, we're going to install again."
While that answer was specifically pertaining to quarterbacks, it is also applicable to the young unit as a whole. This group, which enters its second season under offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's scheme, had the entire offseason to grow together.
That offense will make them a threat to force shootouts on those big boys in the division -- all of which have enough offensive questions to fill their respective stadiums.
It's hard to be a first-time head coach in the SEC.
Muschamp found that out the hard way in Gainesville, Vanderbilt's Derek Mason struggled for a couple of seasons before breaking through to a bowl game last year and Kirby Smart dropped five games in his first season at Georgia.
"Whether it's Florida or anywhere else, you know, time as a head coach helps from a standpoint," he said. "I don't look at it any different than playing as a freshman or a rookie. As you continue to get more snaps, the game slows down for you. I'm not talking in terms of the game. It's not the X-and-O part. It's all the other stuff. It's public relations. It's recruiting. It's managing your football team. It's managing your campus. There's a lot of things -- hats that you wear, in the role. And certainly, the more at-bats you get, the better you're going to become at it."
Muschamp abandoned the antiquated ball-control offense before his final season at Florida and hired Roper, but didn't have a quarterback or roster that was ready to run that hurry-up system.
He does in Columbia.
It's unlikely that South Carolina will win the SEC East, but not impossible. Above all else, it's a threat to muddy up the waters and have a big say on who does represent the division in the SEC Championship Game in December.