Previewing South Carolina: South Carolina wins the SEC if Clowney Masters all 22 Positions
There are two overwhelming narratives surround the South Carolina Gamecocks heading into this offseason:
2. For the last two years South Carolina’s schedule has kept them out of the SEC Eastern Championship despite being the best team in the division.
This preview will attack both of those narratives before drawing your attention to a few narratives that have been altogether ignored.
I’ve said it a dozen times, but Clowney is better at his position than any other player in the country. But, although “Clowney Comin'” as Carolina fans love to point out, Clowney only comin from one spot on the field at any given time. Not only does South Carolina have to roll ten other dudes out to play defense, they’ll actually have 11 different guys playing offense. It’s a tricky concept to grasp, but Clowney is not the whole team.
And, although Clowney dominated some teams (Georgia and Clemson come to mind), and made the hit “herd” (his spelling) around the world, he wasn’t a non-stop force that could not be denied last season. If he had been as independently dominant as this offseason’s storylines indicate, South Carolina’s defense wouldn’t have simply been one of six in the SEC to allow opponents to fewer than 20 points per game. Instead, South Carolina would have been the first defense in the history of the SEC to allow a negative per-game scoring total. That’s what the Clowney hype is indicating.
The Clowney hype, meanwhile, is ignoring the fact that South Carolina lost a heck of a lot on defense including 99% of its linebacker production from a year ago. The Clowney hype is ignoring the fact Spurrier’s offense failed to crack the top-40 in points per game. The Clowney hype is ignoring the fact that South Carolina has won the Eastern Division exactly one time since the Cocks joined the conference in 1992, and that was the year before Clowney arrived.
Last year, a case could be made that scheduling hurt South Carolina. But at the end of the day, if S. Car. could have defeated Florida – something that Georgia did do – they would have won the division. A lost to a divisional foe, Florida, made as much of a difference for South Carolina as a loss to a non-divisional foe, LSU. But fans like to separate those values.
In 2011, that case falls apart. South Carolina lost to Arkansas, but also lost to Auburn. Auburn was not only a team that Georgia played, but a team that was not very good. South Carolina beat themselves in 2011. It had nothing to do with schedule.
Since I’ve spoken at length about the defense already in other articles, I’ll draw a few points about Carolina’s offense. First and foremost, it was above average at best in 2012. And, that statement is hard to defend as the Gamecocks barely cracked the top-90 in offensive yards per game. Connor Shaw put up impressive advanced stats (like QB Rating) but he still threw for just 1956 yards (88th in the nation) in 11 games (178 per contest). Add his rushing yards (because he’s somewhat dual-threat) to his passing totals and he’d be 74th in the country in production by a QB.
Ace Sanders and Marcus Lattimore accounted for 22 total touchdowns. It’s not always easy to replace the best running back in a program’s history – even if he was injury-plagued. And Ace’s receiving duty and return skills will be sorely missed.
The offense will be looking for a playmaker this year, because the offense struggled to find one last year.
At the end of the day, all that Spurrier and his team care about is making it back to Atlanta for the SEC East. I don’t think that happens. I expect a very different outcome than recent performances by the Bulldogs against the Gamecocks. And, i don’t think Georgia will lose two more SEC games, thus the Cocks will be the odd man out.
Overall I think Carolina wins 10 games. They lose to Georgia and two of the following teams: North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson.
That’s all I got/
FOR THE REST OF THE COMPREHENSIVE 2013 SEASON PREVIEW GO HERE.