The Gamecocks finally made the SEC Championship Game last season. Now Steve Spurrier wants another shot at that big game in Atlanta. Al Dannity likes South Carolina’s chances of getting there but it won’t be easy.
The Gamecocks start the year by taking on East Carolina in Charlotte before diving straight into a crucial SEC East clash at Georgia. Navy present a tricky proposition in the home opener although the Midshipmen will be breaking in a new quarterback, making them less of a banana skin than in previous years.
Another opponent with a new signal caller will be Auburn. The Gamecocks will be eager to avenge last year’s SEC title game loss to the Tigers when they meet on October 1. Mississippi State and Arkansas will both provide difficult road tests for Steve Spurrier’s charges down the stretch. Conference play ends with a home date against the Gators before South Carolina close the season against Clemson.
Marcus Lattimore is the greatest cause of nightmares amongst defensive players in the SEC East. As a freshman he made his presence felt with some dominant performances against Georgia, Tennessee and Florida. Consistency however was not his friend, as Clemson and UCF proved, so South Carolina will expect more on that front in 2011. Lattimore is one of 7 returning starters on offense but questions abound over what, if any, role will be played by quarterback Stephen Garcia this season. If he does come back, then it will be good news to the hugely talented Alshon Jeffrey.
The defense has 6 returning starters. Devin Taylor, at defensive end, and cornerback Stephon Gilmore both have NFL aspirations. More will be expected from Gilmore who must find a way to improve South Carolina’s mediocre record in pass coverage. New arrival Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s #1 recruit, will also garner plenty of attention from College Football betting fans.
The table is set for South Carolina in such a way that a 12-0 season isn’t impossible but all the questions over the quarterback situation make that highly unlikely. Even if Garcia comes back into the fold, there will have been enough disruption to doubt the Gamecocks’ ability to achieve perfection. South Carolina will have their hands full between the challenges at Georgia, Mississippi State, and Arkansas, as well as that home date with Florida. I like South Carolina to split these games 2-2, which should probably be enough to go 6-2 in conference play and win the SEC East. I see too much strength in the SEC West for anything other than disappointment in Atlanta but getting there again would be an achievement in its own right.