South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 College Football Preview
South Carolina Gamecocks 2012: 11-2 (6-2)
Columbia, SC (Williams-Brice Stadium)
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South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 Season Preview
Overview: The 11-2 (6-2) South Carolina Gamecocks have a legitimate chance at winning the SEC East this season. After defeating last year’s SEC runner-up in Georgia by 28 points, the Gamecocks lost their next two games against LSU and Florida, both on the road. This season, South Carolina will not have to face the top teams from the SEC West; rather they will play against Mississippi State and Arkansas from the West. Also, the Gamecocks will get to face Florida in their home stadium, but they will have to play Georgia on the road. This season will offer South Carolina more of a challenge compared to last season, but Gamecock fans should still be optimistic because this talented team has the potential to come out on top in the SEC East.
Offense: Last season, The South Carolina offense was on and off due to injuries to their QB Connor Shaw and their RB Marcus Lattimore. This year, quarterback Connor Shaw will return for his senior year, which is a huge boost for the Gamecock offense. When healthy, Shaw can be a premiere quarterback in the SEC, thanks to his ability to run and pass the ball effectively. However, this season, Shaw will not have the go-to running back he had for a part of last year in Marcus Lattimore. While Lattimore was injured, Mike Davis did provide hope for the future. Now a sophomore, Davis will start at running back. I don't believe that he will be able to match Lattimore's production this season, but he should bring some some promise to an uncertain backfield. As for the receivers, the Gamecocks should be returning an experienced group of guys. Four of the top six receivers from last season are back, and they are looking to produce in a big way for Steve Spurrier's offense this season. Lead by juniors Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington, Connor Shaw should have an array of weapons in his arsenal this year. Lastly, the offensive line will be returning four starters, and they hope to be a strongpoint in the Gamecock offense.
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Defense: A strong South Carolina defense from last season will be missing a lot of pieces this year. With only five starters returning, the Gamecocks will need to rely on plenty of young talent that Steve Spurrier has brought to the program. The defensive line should be as strong as ever, with arguably the best defensive player in the nation at defensive end in Jadeveon Clowney. He should be the anchor for this Gamecock defense, and lead his teammates by example. With junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles also returning, they should both help the two new starters get ready for the SEC. South Carolina will not be returning any linebackers this season. This will definitely cause some concern throughout the year because linebackers are so important in a team’s defense, especially in an extremely physical conference. The three new starters, sophomores Cedrick Cooper and Kalwan Lewis and redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs, will be incredibly well coached to play at a high level. South Carolina’s secondary will be one of the top defensive backfields in the country. The group should have enough experience to succeed this season. The sixth-best tackler on the team last year, safety Brison Williams, will definitely look to turn some heads around the nation. The South Carolina Gamecocks’ defense will still be a force in the SEC East, but I do not expect the same dominance they showed at times last season.
Special Teams: Junior punter Tyler Hull will be back this season and he will be trusted to pin opposing teams deep in their own territory. Last year’s kicker Adam Yates has graduated, and sophomore kicker Landon Ard will take over the kicking duties for the Gamecocks this season. Top punt returner Ace Sanders has left early for the NFL, so Bruce Ellington will return kicks and possibly punts, also.
Outlook: South Carolina is aiming to take control of the SEC this season, and with their schedule, it is definitely possible. The Gamecocks will not have to play any of the “big three” from the SEC West (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M) this seasonand they are certainly looking to take advantage. Spurrier will still have to prepare his team to play against a couple of tough non-conference foes in Clemson and North Carolina. Nevertheless, South Carolina has a legitimate chance to win 10 or 11 games in the regular season this year. I expect the Gamecocks to be in a three team race for the East, along with Florida and Georgia.
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