North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks 8/29/13 Free Pick

North Carolina Tar Heels at South Carolina Gamecocks 8/29/13 Free Pick
2013-08-29 05:00:00 EDT

The North Carolina Tar Heels and South Carolina Gamecocks face off in the first game of the 2013 college football season.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are coming off an 8-4 season and are now bowl-eligible heading into this year after their suspension. Head coach, Larry Fedora, hopes that his offense can produce as well as it did last year and the defense can improve after a disappointing 2012 season. The offense is led by QB Bryn Renner, who threw for 3,356 yards and 28 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions last season. Senior LT James Hurst is an excellent offensive lineman and will have the duty of protecting Renner’s blindside. Sophomore WR Quinshad Davis has the potential of being an outstanding player this year and Renner will thitem the ball his way consistently. After losing RB Giovani Bernard to the NFL, the Tar Heels will rely on more of a committee approach in the backfield this season. Senior A.J. Blue and sophomore RB Romar Morris will be a great one-two punch for North Carolina. The Tar Heels will test their up-tempo system against one of the best defenses in the country in week one. Defensively, the strength of the Tar Heel’s defense is in the secondary. Senior FS Tre Boston is arguably the best player on North Carolina’s defense. Boston can not only cover the pass but can also lay the wood in run defense. After losing some guys up front on defense, the Tar Heels will need to have some young players step up. The linebacker unit is soft as junior LB Travis Hughes will be the only proven linebacker with big play potential. Senior DE Kareem Martin will be the best player on the defensive line this season. The North Carolina defense will have a tough task trying to slow down Steve Spurrier’s offense in the first game.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are coming off an 11-2 season and have the talent to be the best team in the country this year. Offensively, the Gamecocks were inconsistent last year due to injuries at quarterback and running back. Senior QB Connor Shaw is healthy coming into this season and should lead an explosive offensive attack. Shaw has the ability to run and pass the ball effectively. After losing RB Marcus Lattimore, sophomore RB Mike Davis will have to carry the load in the backfield this season. South Carolina has an experienced group of receivers returning, with four of the top six receivers from last season back on campus. Juniors WR Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington should lead the way in receiving this year. The offensive line returns four starters, so that should be a huge strength for the Gamecocks offense in 2013. Defensively, South Carolina may not have the talent they had last year as five starters return for the Gamecocks, but Spurrier has brought in some young talent to fill the holes. South Carolina’s secondary will be one of the best in the country, with S Brison Williams leading the way for the Gamecocks. South Carolina does not return one starting linebacker from last year, but sophomores Cedrick Cooper and Kalwan Lewis, along with redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs should make for a solid unit. The defensive line will be the strength of the defense as DE Jadeveon Clowney may be the best football player in the country heading into this season. Clowney will be joined by junior DT Kelcy Quarles, who will help out the two new comers on the line this season. The Gamecocks will have a difficult task of stopping a great offense in the first week of play.

This game should be extremely physical and the game will be won up front in the trenches. Having said that, I think South Carolina has an advantage up front on both sides of the ball. I think the Gamecocks will run the ball effectively and use the clock to their advantage, keeping the Tar Heel offense off the field. North Carolina will have trouble establishing their run game against an outstanding South Carolina defensive line. Renner will be forced into thiteming the ball on almost every down and that will be difficult against the pressure upfront from Clowney and a great Gamecock secondary. I believe South Carolina wins by two touchdowns in a low scoring game.

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Mitch Wilson's Free Pick:
Under 56; Lean South Carolina -11
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Mitch Wilson

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