#33 South Carolina Football 2015 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #33
#10 SEC

South Carolina Team Page#33 South Carolina Football 2015 PreviewBuy South Carolina Football Tickets

It did not take long for South Carolina to be exposed last season. On the opening night of the season the Gamecocks lost to Texas A&M 52-28 and the defense never really recovered. After three straight 11 win seasons, South Carolina was lucky to win seven games in 2014. Now the fear is that this is the start of a downward spiral for South Carolina, but the hope is it was just a small setback for Coach Steve Spurrier and company.

2014 Record: 7-6, 3-5
2014 Bowl: Independence Bowl vs. Miami (W 24-21)
Coach: Steve Spurrier (84-45 at South Carolina, 226-85-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Shawn Elliot, Steve Spurrier Jr.
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward, Jon Hoke

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Brandon Wilds, RB, 570 yards
Passing: Pharoh Cooper, WR, 78 yards
Receiving: Pharoh Cooper, WR, 1,136 yards
Tackles: Skai Moore, LB, 93
Sacks: Gerald Dixon, DL, 2.0; Jordan Diggs, DL, 2.0
Interceptions: Skai Moore, LB, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB David Williams, TE Jerell Adams, OL Will Sport, K Elliot Fry, LB T.J. Gurley, LB Jonathan Walton

Key Losses: RB Mike Davis, QB Dylan Thompson, WR Nick Jones, WR Shaq Roland, OL A.J. Cann, OL Corey Robinson, LB Sharrod Golightly, CB Brison Williams

Even without quarterback Dylan Thompson, who set a South Carolina record with 3,564 passing yards last year, and Mike Davis, who left early for the NFL after rushing for 982 yards and nine scores, the Gamecocks should have a potent offense. Connor Mitch is expected to step in for Thompson. Mitch, a 6-3 sophomore, threw just six passes last year, but he is a very good quarterback with a nice arm. There is a bit more experience at running back where Brandon Wilds and David Williams combined for 826 yards and six touchdowns. But the most exciting player on offense is wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. He caught 69 passes for 1,136 yards and nine touchdowns. He was also used as a quarterback in the wildcat formation and added 200 yards on the ground. Coach Spurrier will find ways to get the ball in his hands. While the opposition spends time worrying about Cooper, keep an eye out for redshirt freshman receiver Deebo Samuel.

The South Carolina defense was a huge problem last year. They allowed 30.4 points per game and that number was even inflated a little bit because of games against Furman and South Alabama. Coach Spurrier hopes new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke will make a big difference. The biggest issue was getting to the opposing quarterback. The team averaged just 1.08 sacks per game and that number was worse in SEC play. Junior college transfers Marquavius Lewis and Dante Sawyer are the hopeful answers to join Gerald Dixon and his brother Gerald Dixon, Jr. on the line. In the back seven there have been quite a few position changes in an effort to strength the overall unit. But junior middle linebacker Skai Moore and his team high 93 tackles will have to lead the way. The secondary may have been a little better than they looked last season since they had to cover receivers for such a long time. Sophomore Chris Lammons and junior Rico McWilliams are cornerbacks who are getting better with time, but how much they will be improved remains to be seen.

The Bottom Line:
South Carolina does not have an easy schedule by any means. They start the season against North Carolina and then jump right into the SEC slate. In fact, South Carolina must travel to Georgia, Missouri and Tennessee, the likely top three competitors in the SEC East. The trip to Georgia is in week three and the trip to Mizzou is in week five, so once again South Carolina could find themselves out of the SEC East title hunt before the heart of the SEC schedule really even begins.

Projected Bowl: Citrus Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 161.0 (65th in nation, 9th in conference)
Passing Offense: 282.4 (20, 2)
Total Offense: 443.4 (33, 6)
Scoring Offense: 32.6 (39, 6)
Rushing Defense: 212.2 (105, 13)
Pass Defense: 220.5 (52, 10)
Total Defense: 432.7 (92, 13)
Scoring Defense: 30.4 (89, 12)
Turnover Margin: -0.15 (73, 12)
Sacks: 1.08 (118, 14)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (64, 10)

Madness 2016 NFL Draft Rankings:
#51 Pharoh Cooper

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#157 Sherrod Pittman
#163 Zack Bailey


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