#11 South Carolina Football 2012 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

2012 Overall Rank: #11
#4 SEC
South Carolina College Football 2012 Team Preview
South Carolina Team Page


South Carolina had a fantastic season in 2011.  They were one of the best teams in the country and in the conference.  Unfortunately, they are in the same conference as LSU and Alabama, the two teams that played for the national championship.  For the last few seasons under Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks have found some great success.  They just have not been able to make it over the hump to win the conference.  They had what seemed to be never-ending quarterback issues with the likes of Stephen Garcia and Spurrier playing a game of cat-and-mouse.  Now Connor Shaw has seemed to solidify himself as Spurrier’s guy.  As we know in Steve Spurrier’s offense, the quarterback is everything.  Can the Gamecocks truly challenge in 2012?

2011 Record: (11-2)
2011 Bowl:  Capital One Bowl vs Nebraska (W 30-13)
Coach: Steve Spurrier (55-35 at S. Carolina, 197-75-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Spurrier Jr. /Shawn Elliott
Defensive Coordinator:  Lorenzo Ward

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marcus Lattimore, RB, 818 yards
Passing: Connor Shaw, QB, 1,448 yards
Receiving: Ace Sanders, WR, 383 yards
Tackles: D.J. Swearinger, S, 80
Sacks: Jadaveon Clowney, DE, 8
Interceptions: D.J. Swearinger, S, 3

Other Key Returnees: RB Brandon Wilds, DE Devin Taylor, DT Kelcy Quarles, LB Shaq Wilson

Key Losses: CB Stephon Gilmore, LB Melvin Ingram, LB/SPR Antonio Allen

The Gamecocks did not lead the conference in any category, but they ranked in the top-five in most categories.  South Carolina exceled at running the ball.  Pre-season All-American Marcus Lattimore led the way for the Gamecocks until his year was shortened by a knee injury in early October.  He returns as a centerpiece for the offense this year.  Connor Shaw is athletic and can run as well as pass.  Like other SEC teams, South Carolina’s calling card was their defense.  Third overall nationally in total defense, they only gave up 267 yards per game.  They lose stud cornerback Stephon Gilmore, so their second-ranked pass defense may falter a bit.  Their balance is what makes South Carolina a formidable team.

The most incomplete part of South Carolina’s team is their special teams.  Their punting was awful and their kick returns ranked in the bottom quarter of the SEC.  If they could have won a few more field position battles, maybe they would have had a shot at the conference title.  As strong as they were on the ground, the Gamecocks could improve in their passing game.  As good as Shaw is as a dual-threat quarterback, he is raw.  He will have to improve his 181 passing yards per game this coming season.  He will also have to be aware of oncoming pressure.  In a hard-hitting, quarterback-crushing conference like the SEC, South Carolina had a tough time blocking pass rushers.  The men under center for the Gamecocks hit the deck more than twice per game.

The Bottom Line:
South Carolina is looking to sustain its success.  It is looking to maintain double-digit wins from year-to-year.  The bugaboo for this team is the fact that they play in a brutal conference, and they cannot seem to get over the hump.  In order to compete for conference championships, they are going to have to start beating the big boys.  The problem is that last year they did not even have to play Alabama or LSU.  They face the Tigers on the road in 2012.  In recent seasons South Carolina has had a hiccup against a lesser team at some point throughout the season.  They will have to avoid that in order to reach their goals.  No matter what, this team looks like a safe bet to win 10 games once again.

Projected Bowl:  Capital One Bowl

2011 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 192.08 (25th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense:  181.46 (95, 7)
Total Offense: 373.54 (74, 4)
Scoring Offense: 30.08 (42, 5)
Rushing Defense: 136.00 (45, 6)
Pass Defense: 131.69 (2, 2)
Total Defense: 267.69 (3, 3)
Scoring Defense: 18.38 (11, 3)
Turnover Margin: .38 (30, 4)
Sacks: 2.38 (26, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.38 (87, 9)

Madness 2013 NFL Draft Rankings:
#19 Marcus Lattimore
#47 Devin Taylor

Madness 2012 Football Recruit Rankings:
#44 Shaq Roland
#49 Mike Davis
#217 Jody Fuller