Online Community and Gameday Events
Garcia South Carolina

SEC Fall Preview: The South Carolina Game Cocks

Steve Spurrier has made the South Carolina program into a winning one, but he has yet to bring them to the elite status that he had planned to. Last year, the Gamecocks were a respectable 7-6 after losing to Iowa in the Outback Bowl. The head ball coach thinks this is the most talented team he has had and is looking to make a run this season.

On Offense: The reason this USC team has a chance to be better than any other under Spurrier is the potential of QB Stephen Garcia. Garcia is an athletic quarterback with a good arm who can make plays under pressure. He has struggled to grasp the offense in the past, but this spring he looks like he has made great strides.

Advertisement

The offensive line looks to be a strength with three starters returning as well as two other players with significant experience. The left side will certainly be strong with junior Jarriel King who played well after converting from DE and has the potential to be an All-SEC type guy. Left guard Terrance Campbell was a starter last year, as well, and should provide more good blindside coverage for Stephen Garcia. Senior center Garrett Anderson will be the anchor of the line after starting all thirteen games last year and being named to the preseason Rimington watch list (for the nation’s best center). On the right side, junior Hutch Eckerson is listed as the starter and has some experience starting five games last year. The right guard will be redshirt freshman T.J. Johnson who played well in the spring.

The wide receiving corps is talented, but it will be tough to replace the Kenny McKinley who was the best wideout in USC history. Sophomore Jason Barnes had a good freshman year hauling in 27 catches for 346 yards and two scores. The coaches think he has the most potential and could replace McKinley. Junior and Ocala Trinity Catholic grad Dion Lecorn should also be a factor. Rounding out the starters, senior Moe Brown has the most experience and consistent production of the group. With TE Jared Cook also gone to the NFL junior TE Weslye Saunders will become the starter. The coaches think he also has the potential to become a go to target for Garcia.

At running back, the Cocks lost last year’s leading rusher Mike Brown. The starter will be junior Brian Maddox, who doesn’t have much experience. He is a powerful back at 5’11 224 pounds who will be able to take the punishment of SEC defenses. Also look for true freshman Jarvis Giles to see the field a lot, as he is the most explosive guy on the depth chart- despite having no experience.

Offensive Star: QB Stephen Garcia. After two seasons of learning the system Garcia looks ready to have a breakout year. He will need help from the rest of the offense, but he showed more consistency in the spring.

On Defense: The defensive line returns two starters and all four guys penciled in to start this year have significant experience. Senior DT Nathan Pepper and Junior DE Cliff Matthews both started every game last year. Both are consistent performers and Matthews is primed for breakout year. Matthews has unbelievable motor and received honors for his hard work in the spring. The other DE will be junior Clifton Geathers, he has seen action in 24 of his 25 games at USC. Geathers has a Carlos Dunlap like build at 6’8 281 pounds and should strike fear in to the heart of tackles everywhere if he can put it all together. The other inside starter is junior Travian Robertson who produced six tackles against Clemson last year.

The linebackers are headlined by star Eric Norwood. Norwood has been first team All-SEC the last to years and is probably the second best linebacker in the league behind Brandon Spikes. Norwood has produced an unbelievable 43 tackles for loss (a school record) and 22 sacks (third on all time list). After missing last year with an injury, former starter junior Rodney Paulk will be the starting middle linebacker. Paulk is a speed guy who flies around the field and produced 64 tackles in 2007. The outside linebacker/hybrid safety complimenting Norwood will be sophomore Alonzo Winfield. He has no experience, but impressed coaches in the spring with his speeding and hitting ability.

The secondary will struggle to replace stars Emmanuel Cook and Captain Munnerlyn. They will be talented, but extremely young. The only players with experience will be the safeties. Strong safety senior Darian Stweart was second on the team last year with 9 tackles for loss.  Junior Chris Culliver was also a starter last year, but true freshman DeVonte Holloman is very talented and will push to see the field. One starting corner will be true freshman Stephon Gilmore who has been the headline this offseason, drawing the praise of Spurrier on multiple occasions. The former high school QB will also get a few snaps at QB in special packages designed to use his explosive speed. The other corner will be sophomore Akeem Auguste. Also look for talented sophomore C.C. Whitlock to see time at corner.

Defensive Star: LB Eric Norwood. He is the heart and soul of this team after being first team All-SEC in his sophomore and junior seasons. Norwood will continue to make plays and lead what could be a pretty good defense.

Predictions: This has the potential to be the best team under Spurrier. I think they will surprise some people and go 8-4 to finish tied with Georgia for second in the SEC East.

Quotable:   “I want the ball and I am looking forward to it. Coach says that he wants to get me the ball so I am doing anything I can to get it.”- Freshman CB Stephon Gilmore on the potential of playing some offense this year.


Ben Pettito is a columnist for GatorTailgating.com

Comments

Enjoyed the preview, Ben.

Enjoyed the preview, Ben. Other than Florida, who do you think the losses will come against?

I think the losses will be

I think the losses will be Ole Miss, Bama and either at Georgia or at Arkansas (if Mallett and the offense there pan out). I think USC will be great on D and if Garcia plays as well as he did in the spring they will certainly be my pick for second in the east

I think the losses will be

I think the losses will be Ole Miss, Bama and either at Georgia or at Arkansas (if Mallett and the offense there pan out). I think USC will be great on D and if Garcia plays as well as he did in the spring they will certainly be my pick for second in the east

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Register with GatorTailgating.com for Free!