#11 South Carolina Football 2014 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks

Overall Rank: #11
#4 SEC

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For the last three seasons, South Carolina has gone 11-2. Suddenly this is a program that has managed to turn into a consistent contender in the toughest conference in the nation. This is a team that will compete for an SEC title and, with a few lucky bounces, could be competing for much more than that.

2013 Record: 11-2, 6-2
2013 Bowl: Capital One Bowl vs. Wisconsin (W 34-24)
Coach: Steve Spurrier (77-39 at South Carolina, 219-79-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Spurrier
Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Mike Davis, RB, 1,183 yards
Passing: Dylan Thompson, QB, 783 yards
Receiving: Damiere Byrd, WR, 575 yards
Tackles: Skai Moore, LB, 56
Sacks: Marcquis Roberts, LB, 1.5; Sharrod Golightly, LB, 1.5; J.T. Surratt, DT, 1.5
Interceptions: Skai Moore, LB, 4

Other Key Returnees: WR Shaq Roland, WR Pharoh Cooper, OL A.J. Cann, OL Brandon Shell, LB Kaiwan Lewis, S Brison Williams, LB T.J. Holloman, K Elliot Fry

Key Losses: QB Connor Shaw, WR Bruce Ellington, DE Jadeveon Clowney, DT Kelcy Quarles, DE Chaz Sutton, CB Jimmy Legree, CB Victor Hampton

This is South Carolina, so for the most part victories will come through the defense. The front four will certainly miss Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles, but there are some inexperienced options waiting in the wings. Tackle J.T. Surratt is the only returning starter, but there are high hopes for sophomore ends Darius English and Gerald Dixon. The linebackers will have to help the front line get to the quarterback. There is a lot of experience at linebacker, but Skai Moore is the one who will get to the quarterback. Kaiwan Lewis and Sharrod Golightly will return to their starting roles at middle linebacker and the spur position, respectively. The secondary will be led by safeties Brison Williams and Chaz Elders, but the lack of experience at cornerback could be a huge problem. Sidney Rhodes is a senior and sophomore Rico McWilliams started a couple games in 2013, but after that the depth will be provided by freshmen. At least they are talented freshmen.

The offense is going to be better than last season and they were not all that bad in 2013. Coach Steve Spurrier will work his offense through running back Mike Davis. He rushed for 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore and is capable of turning into one of the best backs in the SEC and the nation. A very strong and experienced offensive line is the strength of the offense and they will make everybody look better. Quarterback Connor Shaw is gone, but Dylan Thompson has plenty of experience. Last year he threw for 783 yards and four touchdowns. He can run this team and will have plenty of opportunities to show off his arm while the opposition creeps towards the line to stop Davis. However, losing wide receiver Bruce Ellington is huge. He was the one receiver who could consistently stretch the defense and ended his senior season catching 49 passes for 775 yards and eight scores.

The Bottom Line:
The defense has the talent to find new playmakers sooner or later. But the Gamecocks will need that to be sooner. Their first game of the year is against Texas A&M and they play Georgia two weeks later. The good news is that neither Alabama nor LSU are on the schedule, at least in the regular season and that is huge for a team that has missed out on winning the SEC East during their three straight 11 win seasons.

Projected Bowl: Capital One Bowl

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 198.5 (32nd in nation, 6th in conference)
Passing Offense: 253.8 (40, 4)
Total Offense: 452.3 (36, 8)
Scoring Offense: 34.1 (32, 7)
Rushing Defense: 153.8 (50, 8)
Pass Defense: 196.2 (12, 3)
Total Defense: 350.0 (19, 5)
Scoring Defense: 20.3 (12, 2)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (8, 2)
Sacks: 1.92 (66, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.77 (50, 7)

Madness 2015 NFL Draft Rankings:
#50 Mike Davis
#76 A.J. Cann
#90 Rory Anderson

Madness 2014 Recruit Rankings:
#101 Dante Sawyer
#121 Chris Lammons
#152 Donell Stanley
#162 Bryson Allen-Williams
#179 Shaquille Davidson


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