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SEC Football Preview: South Carolina
Posted Jun 2, 2011
South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier returns for his seventh season in Columbia as his Gamecocks look to build on the program’s first ever SEC East title from a season ago.
is picked to finish No. 1 in the SEC East by Scout.com publishers/writers.
The Gamecocks brings back one of the SEC’s best offensive duos in national Freshman-of-the-Year running back
and All-America wide receiver and Biletnikoff Award finalist
Those two gave defenses fits last season but the biggest question remains whether or not fifth-year senior quarterback
will be back under center after being indefinitely suspended during spring practice.
Garcia is third all-time at South Carolina in passing yards (6,753), completions (528), attempts (903), and passing touchdowns (43). He has started 28 consecutive games and has made a team-high 30 career starts overall, but is often criticized for his off-the-field issues. A joint-decision among athletics director Eric Hyman, President Harris Pastides and Spurrier about Garcia’s status with the team should be made early this summer.
If Garcia isn’t allowed back on the team, the likely starter is sophomore
. The South Carolina coaches are high on Shaw’s natural ability but he lacks game experience. Shaw played in nine games as a true freshman completing 23-of-33 passes for 223 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Regardless of who’s taking the snaps, Lattimore and Jeffery will remain the focus of the offense. Last season as a freshman, Lattimore notched the third-best single-season rushing total in Carolina history when he rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. Jeffery set single-season school records in both receptions (88) and receiving yards (1,517) while leading the SEC in receiving yards per game (108.4).
Both superstars should have more depth complementing them than a season go. Junior running backs
both had big springs and will be joined by highly-touted two-sport star
in the backfield as the trio will be asked to take some pressure off of Lattimore.
While the receiving corps lost would-be senior
a season early when he declared for the NFL Draft,
all return. Redshirt sophomore
was the surprise of the spring and caught three touchdowns in the spring game – he could take a big step forward after being slowed by injuries for much of his career.
A revamped offensive line will be led by junior center
, senior left tackle
, who slides out to right tackle after spending last season as a starter at guard. Redshirt freshman
and sixth-year senior
are now listed as starters at guard.
The biggest loss on offense could prove to be
who served as both a fullback and tight end and was quietly one of the Gamecocks’ best players.
will replace DiMarco at tight end while walk-on
should start at fullback.
Defensively, Carolina loses a leader in defensive end
but adds the nation’s top-ranked prospect in the 2011 class in defensive end
. Clowney will receive much of the fan attention but
all return from a defensive line that finished fifth in the county a season ago with 41 sacks. Freshman
should provide depth on the interior while
will play a lot as a backup at end.
At linebacker the Gamecocks lose starters
but get back
, who missed most of last season and received a medical redshirt after suffering a hamstring injury. Wilson, who led the team in tackles in 2009, is listed as a starter alongside sixth-year senior
. Paulk has the experience but will be pushed by
, who slides inside after playing the Gamecocks’ linebacker/safety hybrid SPUR position for two seasons.
The Gamecocks were uncharacteristically subpar in the secondary last season and have shuffled around players in an effort to fix that.
, who started most of last season at SPUR is listed as a co-starter at the position along with
, who played his first two seasons at the boundary safety position.
Junior D.J. Swearinger played both free safety and boundary safety a season ago, but seemed to find a home on the boundary side late in spring practice. Redshirt freshman
emerged as a playmaker at cornerback this spring but made the move to free safety late during spring practice and is atop the depth chart at this time.
The coaches will be counting on a host of inexperienced players to provide depth at safety in redshirt sophomore
, redshirt freshman
and true freshman
, who enrolled in January after a season at prep school.
At cornerback junior
returns and appears to be taking on more of a vocal leadership role. He’ll be joined as a starter by senior
, who played the majority of two years at the position before playing last season at free safety. Auguste is a confident cover corner who can deliver the big hit and is more comfortable at cornerback than safety.
SEC Football Preview: Georgia
Jun 3, 2011
SEC Football Preview: Auburn
May 24, 2011
SEC Football Preview: Florida
Jul 3, 2011
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