South Carolina Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #10
South Eastern Conference Rank: #3
South Carolina Team Page
2010 Record: (9-5, 5-4)
2010 Bowl: Chick-Fil-A Bowl vs. Florida State (L 26-17)
Coach: Steve Spurrier (44-33 at South Carolina, 186-73-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Spurrier
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward
Rushing: Marcus Lattimore, RB, 1197 yards
Passing: Stephen Garcia, QB, 3059 yards
Receiving: Alshon Jeffery, WR, 1517 yards
Tackles: Stephon Gilmore, CB, 79
Sacks: Melvin Ingram, DE, 9.0
Interceptions: Stephon Gilmore, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: WR Ace Sanders, C T.J. Johnson, OT Rokevious Watkins, DE Devin Taylor, DT Travian Robertson, DeVonte Holloman, LB Antonio Allen, LB Quin Smith, CB Akeem Auguste, S D.J. Swearinger
Key Losses: RB Brian Maddox, WR Tori Gurley, OL Jarriel King, OL Charles Turner, DL Cliff Matthews, LB Tony Straughter, LB Josh Dickerson, DB Chris Culliver
It is hard to be under the radar after making the championship game of the best conference in the nation. It should be even harder coming into a season where you have two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates on your roster. However, South Carolina fits both these descriptions and cannot be called anything but under the radar as far as the national landscape goes. When the SEC is brought up, the Gamecocks are mentioned as contenders only after the usual suspects, even with their high level of returning talent and experience.
The strength of the Gamecocks roster rests with its two best players, running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Either man could be the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year. Either man could take home the Heisman Trophy. Lattimore could be the best running back in the nation. Jeffery is most certainly one of the top two or three wide receivers in the country today. Opponents must game plan and adjust not only for one star offensive weapon but two with very separate skills and strengths. This gives South Carolina an advantage before the opening kick of most games.
To go along with these two talented skill players is an experienced and veteran quarterback, Stephen Garcia. Although he has been benched before by Head Coach Steve Spurrier and he was considering/threatening to transfer, Garcia still has tons of big game familiarity and the tangibles to lead an offense as talented as this one. Meanwhile, the South Carolina defense returns many of its leaders from a year ago including the team’s leader in tackles and interceptions, cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Along with many other returnees around the defensive front seven, the arrival of top recruit Jadeveon Clowney should help a defensive unit that struggled at times in 2010 make further strides.
Experience is important but it can only take you so far. Quarterback Stephen Garcia is most certainly the swing player on this roster. If he struggles like he has in the past or exhibits some of his poorer qualities, the offense may sputter along with him. Garcia has been suspended, arrested and criticized to the point of wanting to leave the university. Although Alshon Jeffery is very talented, a wide receiver cannot do a thing without someone getting him the ball and Garcia leaves that question mark on the minds of Gamecock fans.
On defense, the problems could be very similar. A lot of experience is returning but returning to a team that finished in the 40s in the nation in total defense and scoring defense. Although it will be a veteran group that does not always guarantee success. It will be interesting as well to see how a freshman who is more talented than his older peers, Clowney, is rotated in to a returning group of defensive linemen.
The Bottom Line:
Talent and experience should propel South Carolina to a similarly successful season as in 2010. However, the Southeastern Conference is as tough as they come. The Gamecocks will need to travel to Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas in back to back to back games in the middle of the season, followed by a date against Florida. Even if they start off well and perform admirably against Auburn, the season could turn in that month span. Expect South Carolina to survive and finish somewhere in the muck of the second-tier SEC teams.
Projected Bowl: Capital One Bowl
2010 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 154.36 (60th in nation, 8th in conference)
Passing Offense: 238.43 (44, 6)
Total Offense: 392.79 (47, 7)
Scoring Offense: 30.93 (38, 6)
Rushing Defense: 112.43 (12, 3)
Pass Defense: 241.93 (97, 10)
Total Defense: 354.36 (46, 7)
Scoring Defense: 23.14 (43, 6)
Turnover Margin: 0.00 (55, 9)
Sacks: 2.93 (7, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.14 (74, 8)
Madness 2012 NFL Draft Rankings:
#2 Alshon Jeffery
#27 Stephon Gilmore
#48 Devin Taylor
Madness 2011 Football Recruit Rankings:
#1 Jadeveon Clowney
#39 Brandon Shell
#134 Sheldon Royster
#155 Phillip Dukes
Check out another article about South Carolina football