College Football Preview: The 2014 South Carolina Gamecocks
2014 College Football Preview
Odds to Win National Championship: 50/1 See the Latest Odds
Overview: For the third straight year under head coach Steve Spurrier, the South Carolina Gamecocks won 11 games and won their bowl matchup. Clearly a program on the rise, South Carolina fans can’t wait to see what the future holds and if a possible SEC Championship is within reach rather soon. Gamecocks’ fans were used to mediocrity for such a long time and 1999 wasn’t that long ago when the program finished 0-11 under Lou Holtz. This recent success has South Carolina fans feeling giggly about the upcoming season.
Offense: South Carolina’s offense is sure to rely heavily on running back Mike Davis, who broke out of his shell last season. Davis rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 11 touchdown, while averaging close to six yards per carry. If he can duplicate that performance, South Carolina’s offense is in good hands. Dylan Thompson is the new quarterback, and he showed promise last year with four touchdowns and 783 passing yards. Thompson now just has to get his completion percentage above 60 percent. The Gamecocks are also fine at wide receiver with Shaq Roland and Pharoh Cooper and leading the way. South Carolina also has an experienced offensive line that should do a nice job of protecting these guys. This offense is looking terrific on paper and may be the best under Spurrier.
USA TODAY Sports
Defense: South Carolina’s defense is where the questions come in, as replacing two key guys in Kelcy Quarles and Jadeveon Clowney won’t be easy. Those two guys were the bread and butter of South Carolina’s defense that ranked second in the SEC in points allowed last season. On a positive note, South Carolina is young and extremely talented at the linebacker position with Skai Moore and Kaiwan Lewis forming a nice tandem that racked up many of the Gamecocks’ tackles last season. South Carolina’s secondary is razor thin as far as depth is concerned, but Brison Williams and Lorenzo Ward are two playmakers who should be able to do enough to keep the defense afloat.
Special Teams: Kicker Elliott Fry returns after drilling 15 of his 18 field goal attempts last season. The concerns are at punter, as Tyler Hull averaged less than 38 yards per kick, which was by far the worst in the SEC. He’ll have to improve those numbers this time around.
Outlook: South Carolina’s success will be determined how quickly Thompson can become a legitimate starter and if the defense can grow up quicker than expected. The Gamecocks have a workhorse running back and playmakers all around him on the offensive end. However, we all know championships in the SEC are won on the defensive side of the ball. South Carolina could push to make it out of the SEC East, but we’ll find out just how good this team is early in the season.