#37 South Carolina Football 2019 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #37
#9 SEC
 South Carolina Logo
South Carolina went into last season with relatively high expectations. Based on those expectations it was a disappointing campaign, which ended with a terrible performance against Virginia in the Belk Bowl. But quite a few key players are back and Coach Will Muschamp will try to exceed the lowered expectations in 2019.
2018 Record: 7-6, 4-4
2018 Bowl: Belk Bowl vs. Virginia (L 0-28)
Coach: Will Muschamp (22-17 at South Carolina, 43-32 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Bryan McClendon
Defensive Coordinator: Tavaris Robinson
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Rico Dowdle, RB, 654 yards
Passing: Jake Bentley, QB, 3,171 yards
Receiving: Bryan Edwards, WR, 846 yards
Tackles: TJ Brunson, LB, 106
Sacks: Javon Kinlaw, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: 3 tied with 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Mon Denson, WR Shi Smith, LB Sherrod Greene, S RJ Roderick, CB Jaycee Horn, DE Keir Thomas, P Joseph Charlton
Key Losses: WR Debo Samuel, OL Zack Bailey, DE Bryson Allen-Williams, S Steven Montac, CB Keisean Nixon
This is where South Carolina can surprise a few people. They drastically boosted their offensive production last season and Jake Bentley is a very experienced senior signal caller. In 2018 he threw for 3,171 yards and 27 touchdowns. Bryan Edwards could claim just about every career receiving record in South Carolina history by the time his senior season is over. Last season he caught 55 passes for 846 yards and seven scores and Bentley will look his direction often. But with Shi Smith, the return of OrTre Smith from injury and tight end Kiel Pollard, Bentley has plenty of other proven pass catchers at his disposal. The ground game was a bit stagnant last year, but there are three experienced seniors on the roster, led by last year’s leading rushing Rico Dowdle. If the offensive line can stay healthy, this could be a very, very potent offense.
The defense is solid and experienced across the board. However, they were not very productive last season. That could change this year, especially if the secondary can force a few turnovers. Jaycee Horn is expected to be a star cornerback, but the Gamecocks lack depth and will need fellow sophomore R.J. Roderick to have a big year at strong safety. The linebackers will be led by T.J. Brunson, who tallied a team high 106 tackles in 2018. With upperclassmen Daniel Fennell and Sherrod Greene on the outside, South Carolina should be more productive in the middle of the defense. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw is a difference maker and the return of D.J. Wonnum from an ankle injury should provide the Gamecocks with a more consistent pass rush.
The Bottom Line:
Despite all of the talent and experience, nobody expects South Carolina to be able to compete with the best the SEC has to offer. With Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and Florida on the slate, the Gamecocks will have to earn everything they get in 2019. That is not even counting a trip to Missouri and a key game at home against Kentucky. If things start going wrong, it could all go down in a hurry, but for now South Carolina has the offense to compete with most teams on the schedule and enough experience on defense to give the offense a chance to win some big games.
Projected Bowl: Music City Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.8 (91st in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 272.8 (26, 4)
Total Offense: 425.6 (43, 7)
Scoring Offense: 30.1 (56, 9)
Rushing Defense: 195.3 (95, 13)
Pass Defense: 229.0 (65, 9)
Total Defense: 424.3 (84, 12)
Scoring Defense: 27.2 (69, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.38 (100, 12)
Sacks: 2.00 (73, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (39, 6)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#12 Javon Kinlaw
Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#8 Zacch Pickens
#52 Ryan Hilinski
#128 Jaquaze Sorrells
#142 Joseph Anderson
#198 Camerom Smith