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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 7 South Carolina

Steve Spurrier

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 6-2 in SEC (2nd in SEC East)
2013 postseason: Capital One Bowl vs. Wisconsin (34-24 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 4/No. 4
Head coach: Steve Spurrier (219-79-2 overall; 77-39 in nine years at South Carolina)
Offensive coordinator: Steve Spurrier Jr. (third season as co-coordinator); Shawn Elliott (third season as co-coordinator)
2013 offensive rankings: 32nd rushing offense (198.5 ypg); 40th passing offense (253.8 ypg); 36th total offense (452.3 ypg); 32nd scoring offense (34.1 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: Eight
Defensive coordinator: Lorenzo Ward (third season)
2013 defensive rankings: 50th rushing defense (153.8 ypg); 12th passing defense (196.2 ypg); 19th total defense (350 ypg); 12th scoring defense (20.3 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: Six
Location: Columbia, SC
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250; Grass)
Last conference title: 1969 (ACC)

Sure, there were a couple of key departures on one of the best defenses in the conference, and the starting quarterback, the winningest of all-time at the school, needs replaced.  That said, this should still be arguably the most talented and deepest squad Spurrier & Company have put on the field since the OBC came to Columbia a decade ago.    Returning are two of the best skill position players in the passing game in the SEC to go along with four starting offensive lineman.  The former will help the new starter under center, while the latter will greatly aid said starter as well as the underrated Mike Davis in the backfield.  The schedule also sets up nicely, with just a pair of what could even remotely be considered formidable road trips: at Auburn and at in-state rival Clemson.  The Gamecocks have owned the ACC Tigers — won five straight — of late, with CU needing to reload at several important positions, so calling that game formidable might be a stretch at this early juncture.

The cornerbacks.  And, actually, that’s way too harsh and not even remotely accurate; the corners aren’t “bad.”  Rather, they’re extremely raw and very inexperienced — only one player at the position has played in a game at the collegiate level.  The good news for the Gamecocks is that they have significant returning experience at both safety positions, which should help as at least two, possibly three, true freshmen will be needed to contribute immediately.  Another negative from the same unit that somewhat relates to the secondary?  USC’s top two pass rushers left for the NFL, meaning any help the young corners could get from a significant pass rush during their transition is somewhat mitigated.  Certainly there’s talent to replace what was lost, but it may take some time..

With Connor Shaw gone, USC will be breaking in a new first-time full-time starting quarterback.  Dylan Thompson‘s different than a lot of first-time starters, however, as he at least has some experience in that capacity — he’s 3-0 in his career as a starter replacing an injured Shaw and has thrown passes in 20 of the games in which he’s played the past three years.  Still, there’s additional pressure being the everyday, every-down man under center, although Thompson appears to have the kind of poise and personality where the stage won’t even remotely be too big for him.  He won’t have time to ease into that role, either, as USC’s first three games are against Texas A&M, East Carolina (a 10-3 team in 2013) and Georgia.  The good news is that all three of those games are in Columbia, with the first road test coming Sept. 20 against Vanderbilt.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs, Georgia, Sept. 13
As I stated in No. 12 Georgia’s preview, and as both Georgia and South Carolina are expected to be the cream of the crop in the SEC East, it would stand to reason that this game, played the third weekend of the season, could prove to be the SEC title game ticket-puncher for the winning side.  While UGA won last year’s game, USC has owned the series of late by winning the previous three by a combined 42 points.  The fact that the game is in Columbia bodes well for the Gamecocks.  Well, that and the fact that, at least on paper, they’ll be the more talented of the two teams.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: running back Mike Davis
One of the most underrated players in the country at any position, Davis will get the opportunity, especially early on, to carry more of the offensive workload as Thompson establishes his footing as the Gamecocks’ full-time starter for the first time.  While Davis — very quietly — rushed for nearly 1,200 yards last season, his work in the passing game (34-352) is an ofttimes overlooked facet that provides an extra dimension for his offense — and another consideration for voters.  If the Gamecocks can have the type of team success they had in 2013 and Davis can increase his production — especially in high-profile games — then come late November and early December he could very well be in the midst of the discussion.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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21 Responses to “CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 7 South Carolina”
  1. bonnovi says: Aug 22, 2014 4:41 PM

    Gamecock fever! Catch it!

  2. classyjacklambert says: Aug 22, 2014 5:17 PM

    I wondered what the trendy new name for the herp was… Thanks bonnovi!

  3. bonnovi says: Aug 22, 2014 7:53 PM

    I knew there was going to be a comment like that…

  4. militarygamecock says: Aug 22, 2014 8:10 PM

    I’ve been listening to a lot of talk radio regarding this first game and it seems that even the ESPN guys and gals are getting exciting about the atmosphere at Williams Brice.

    South Carolina fans are without a doubt the best fans in the state of South Carolina. Even ESPN recognizes that.

  5. classyjacklambert says: Aug 22, 2014 8:33 PM

    Hahahahah they aren’t even the best fans I’m that armpit of a city called Columbia.

  6. militarygamecock says: Aug 22, 2014 8:52 PM

    You said it your self jackie boy. You are the armpit of the city of Columbia.

    Please leave, but don’t go up to Clemson, you may ruin that nice town.

    I love your posts, you always make me laugh at how uneducated you are.

  7. classyjacklambert says: Aug 22, 2014 9:38 PM

    Lol you couldn’t pay me to live a hole like Columbia. Well played on the autocorrect jibe though. Look everyone knows that the gamecocks are experiencing their glory days right now (as sad as that is) but it was a fairly low glass ceiling to break. We also all know that most gamecock fans just started watching football in the past half dozen years and couldn’t tell you what an endzone was before that. They are all jackolantern grinning yokels that shout “forever to thee” and will be gone as soon as Clemson reclaims it’s rightful place at the top of SC football. Talk to me when you’re school actually wins something in a major sport. Until then, enjoy your wife/sister and your sub-100 IQ and leave this to the real fans.

  8. militarygamecock says: Aug 22, 2014 10:15 PM

    2010 and 2011 Baseball National Champs. Third major sport behind Football and Basketball. Clemson used to have a good baseball team. I remember watching them in CWS in the 90’s.

    I think i will just enjoy both your wife and your sister. They may be skanks but hey what the he!!, nothing a bottle of Jim Beam can’t take care of.

    Oh yeah, how’s Clemson looking so far? I still only see you trolling the gamecock articles. I hear you guys need to take the redshirt off of that freshmean. Do you understand what that means?
    It’s an eligibility thing regarding College. You know that school of higher education that you couldn’t get into. I guess you shouldn’t have dropped out of middle school. i know i know that math can be tricky, but i promise you, you will get it one day. I’ll give your wife some “material” for it tonight.

    I really don’t understand this hatred you have for Carolina. Clemson fans like you are what’s wrong with the game. My guess is you probably grew up and was always picked last and never had many friends. So, naturally you gravitated towards Clemson back when Danny Ford was the coach during the golden years of Clemson football.

  9. militarygamecock says: Aug 22, 2014 10:17 PM

    Oh yeah, have a nice night. Your wife just called. She’s leaving dude, you better stop her….

  10. classyjacklambert says: Aug 22, 2014 10:58 PM

    *were always picked on.
    So I guessed your IQ I see. I don’t have a wife or a mom anymore unfortunately. My sister’s really sweet but like most gamecock fans, she’s pushing four digits on the scale, so she must be your type. I actually do have a bachelors from Clemson and a Masters from another location that’s not football related. I have no problem with Carolina fans, they have a great basketball team and I root for them in their rivalry against Duke. Look it’s adorable that you think a redshirt is a secret thing that not many people know about in football but you’re really just showing your lack of football knowledge. Most of us have been up on these terms for a long time. Now I’m starting to even question if you were in the military or if you’re just a jrotc washout. Are you the guy that got busted on youtube pretending to be a veteran? You kinda seem the type… It’s alright, one day you’ll actually have friends and something to live for little guy. Keep trying though!

  11. bonnovi says: Aug 22, 2014 11:17 PM

    You’re both fools.

    There, I think I reached a settlement.

  12. classyjacklambert says: Aug 22, 2014 11:20 PM

    Lol good point bonnovi. I agree.

  13. militarygamecock says: Aug 23, 2014 12:27 AM

    Yeah I was in the military. Served in both Iraq and Afgh. This was all in good fun. I had to cover for night shift the past couple of nights. Got a little bored. Thought I’d give ole jack a little ribbing. Thanks though this kept us entertained at work.

  14. militarygamecock says: Aug 23, 2014 12:32 AM

    Oh it was “were”. Good catch. Sorry about the wife comment if she did pass away.

  15. classyjacklambert says: Aug 23, 2014 4:46 AM

    Nah divorced and I earned it. No hard feelings, this has been fun. I served too, just never got deployed, thanks for your service man.

  16. keltictim says: Aug 23, 2014 4:00 PM

    Until clemson can do something in the far inferior ACC, let alone plain beat USC, clemson fans have ZERO credibility in trash talking. Put USC in the ACC, and they would win the conference every year. The SEC is NFL lite, it’s far and away the toughest conference is the NCAA, and the last few years the gamecocks have won the east and almost won it again. This year there is legitimate, albeit early, talk of the SEC crown as well as National Championship talk. With clemson the only talk is “can they hope to beat USC”. We are so far in your heads you have a countdown clock to our game, your coaches clearly admitting that’s the only goal of the season, everything else is lost already.

  17. clemsonstillsucks says: Aug 26, 2014 10:07 PM

    Jack! My man!

    Ready for number 6?

  18. clemsonstillsucks says: Aug 26, 2014 10:20 PM

    Sorry – I know “6” may feel like “12′ ” to the Clemson faithful….

    But cheer up. With any luck it won’t be WVU’s “72′ “?

  19. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 27, 2014 12:52 PM

    Have to admit…. I love the SC v Clemson rivalry…

    Easily one of the best in CFB…

  20. microbrewuga says: Aug 27, 2014 1:09 PM

    I think the UGA volleyball team versus the Auburn football team is the best rivalry in the country, (see, I cannot get over that game last year!!!)

  21. 8to80texansblog says: Aug 29, 2014 3:46 PM

    keltictim says:
    Aug 23, 2014 4:00 PM

    This year there is legitimate, albeit early, talk of the SEC crown as well as National Championship talk.

    Might want to table those expectations a bit now….

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