2014 South Carolina Football Preview: Who and What are the Cocks?


DudeYouCrazy Preseason SEC Ranking: 3

The 2014 South Carolina Gamecocks in One Question:

Is this a program that will now be typified by 11-win seasons?

That question matter. A lot.

That question will define South Carolina this year and into the foreseeable future under head coach Steve Spurrier.

Our less-than-scientific poll ranked South Carolina as the SEC’s third-best team heading into the season and the best squad in the East.  to live up to that expectation, an 11-win season is a necessity.

Dating back to 2006, the winner of the SEC East has posted the following win totals:

  • 2006: 13
  • 2007: 10
  • 2008: 13
  • 2009: 13
  • 2010: 9
  • 2011: 10
  • 2012: 12
  • 2013: 12
  • Average: 11.5 wins

Contending for second place isn’t a whole lot easier.  Dating back to 2006, runner-ups in the East have posted the following win totals.

  • 2006: 9
  • 2007: 11
  • 2008: 10
  • 2009: 8
  • 2010: 8
  • 2011: 11
  • 2012: 11
  • 2013: 11
  • Average: 9.875 wins

South Carolina has posted back-to-back-to-back 11-win seasons, so on one hand that’s who the Cocks have been—at least recently.  But in the grand scheme of things, those three 11-win seasons are noticeably out of character for a program with a .512 all-time winning percentage and only one additional 10-win season in its history.

Is this question fair?

It’s absolutely fair.  As sure as I write this, South Carolina fans will call me out for not recognizing what the program has become.  But it should be noted that my questioning of South Carolina has nothing to do with what the Gamecocks accomplished over the past three years and everything to do with if Spurrier and Co. can maintain it.  Over the past three seasons, South Carolina has arguably been the best team in the Eastern division despite failing to earn an SEC Championship Game bid.  But can the wiles of Spurrier keep this program on top?

Missing from the Gamecocks’ squad in 2014 are a host of household names.  Most obviously, Jadeveon Clowney is gone.  This time last year, Gamecock fans (rightfully) hailed Clowney as the best defensive player of his generation.  The team rode Clowney hype to a host of preseason accolades.  Oddly, the departure of this one-man wrecking crew has  had little impact on outside sentiment surrounding this team.  South Carolina is ranked 9th by the media and the coaches in preseason polls.

On the offensive side of the ball, the most successful quarterback in program history is gone.  Connor Shaw may not have always been pretty, but he won football games with more consistency than any other passer in Gamecock history.  South Carolina hasn’t typically been forced to replace this caliber of payer, because these types of producers have not typically played for South Carolina.  In that regard, South Carolina has never lost more talent.

But to be fair, South Carolina returns an awful lot of playmakers.  Recent recruiting classes have the Cocks deep with talent.  Most contributors on the offensive line return, a number of dependable receivers are back and Mike Davis could challenge Todd Gurley as the best back in the conference.  Defensively, a strong linebacking unit returns to negate big losses on the offensive line and some attrition in the secondary.

The Schedule

If South Carolina reaches 11 wins this season and wins the SEC East, questions about sustainability will then become irrelevant, but for now they still apply.  So how can the Gamecocks silence doubters?

By our assertions (and previous rankings), the Gamecocks should draw victories against Texas A&M, East Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Kentucky, Furman, Tennessee, Florida and South Alabama.  Sure, the Gamecocks aren’t historically above losing to an inferior opponent (see: Tennessee last year), but assuming A&M and Mizzou decline as we anticipate and Tennessee and Florida don’t rise faster than expected South Carolina should lock up nine wins.

Things get interesting with the following games:

  • Georgia at home on Sept. 13
  • Auburn on the road on Oct. 25
  • Clemson on the road on Nov. 29

The Georgia game may or may not define the East, but with the Gamecocks’ owning a more difficult schedule than the Dawgs a loss could prove crippling.  Fortunately, home field gives a sizable edge in the contest.

Auburn, an early favorite to grace the Top 5 will pose a meaningful threat on the road and a Clemson team with a stout defense and an end-of-season-form offense could finally steal a Palmetto State rivalry game.

My gut says this team gets 11 wins.  But will that be enough?

That’s all I got/

Andrew

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About dudeyoucrazy

College Football Writer

Posted on August 16, 2014, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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