#16 South Carolina

Steve Spurrier built South Carolina into a perennial power just as he did the University of Florida. The Gators hadn’t won an SEC title in 50 years before Spurrier became coach. Up until last season, they have pretty much been in the thick of things pretty much every year since Coach Spurrier left.

Steve Spurrier builds college football programs that apparently last. My only complaints are please don’t say ‘old ball coach’ in front of me and I do wish he would choose not to blast his own players in public.

 

 

Losing Connor Shaw, Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles would be too much for most teams and might also be too much for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Connor Shaw is just one of those guys. He’s not big enough, he’s not fast enough, he’s not whatever, but he is a damn good football player and I hope he gets his shot at the NFL.

 

Clowney, and no I did not want to spell his first name again, is just the exact opposite of Shaw. He is the most physically gifted freak to come around in maybe this life time. He is huge and he can run and when he’s in the game he changes the game no matter what his head coach says about him. The guy is God’s gift to football. If I am a general manager of some NFL team, Clowney is without a doubt my #1 pick.

Kelcy Quarles is just one of the great DTs in the game. He led the Gamecocks in sacks last season with 9.5 and he will be missed in both the run game and the passing game.

 

A funny thing about Steve Spurrier is that he made Florida into a powerhouse in the SEC but he did so without much defense. He got absolutely hammered in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl by the Nebraska Cornhuskers when they scored 62 points.

He learned his lesson and went out and hired Bob Stoops from Kansas State to run his defense and then won a national title the following season.

Spurrier has seemingly had good defenses since that time, and I admire him for that. Many coaches never seem to learn that lesson.

However, he has never equaled the offensive successes he had at Florida again.

 

Senior Dylan Thompson (6-3,220) should be Connor Shaw’s replacement at QB for South Carolina in 2014. Thompson hit 52 passes in 89 attempts which went for 783 yards playing in place of the injured Connor Shaw last season.

Thompson appears to have the better arm than Shaw, but Connor was a much better runner and was second on the team in rushing last season. The Gamecocks will miss Shaw’s leadership and his running abilities, but hopefully Thompson will make up for his slower feet with his arm.

Brendan Nosovitch (6-1,220) a sophomore from Allentown, Pennsylvania will back up Thompson. Brendan redshirted and then played very, very little a year ago. Nosovitch completed 2 passes last season and ran for 12 yards but he looked more mobile in that limited time.

Another Connor is in the pipeline with Connor Mitch (6-3,225) battling it out with Nosovitch for back up duties.

Michael Scarnecchea (6-4,185) is a 3 star recruit out of Florida that probably will redshirt this season.

 

At RB, the Gamecocks return Mike Davis (5-9,215) a hard running junior who rushed for 1183 yards a year ago and scored 11 times.

Davis should be backed up by Shon Carson (5-9,220) with 256 yards in 2013 and Brandon Wilds (6-2,225) who added 221 yards.

David Williams (6-1,200) is a freshman from Philadelphia coming off of a redshirt year.

 

Bruce EllingtonĀ  left early for the NFL and left something of a hole in the depth chart at WR.

South Carolina does return Damiere Byrd (5-9,165) and he helped with 33 receptions a year ago. Shaq Roland (6-1,190) averaged 18.2 yards per catch on 25 passes to lead the team in that category. Nick Jones (5-7,175) is a slippery senior and also back.

Pharoh Cooper (5-11,185) will more than likely be more productive this season. He came on strong as the 2013 season wore on and is very explosive and dangerous with the ball in his hands. He was a tremendous punt returner in high school, and will eventually bust some for South Carolina.

Recruits Shaquille Davidson (6-0,170) is a 4 star and Tyshun Samuel (6-0,180) is a 3 star and they may have to play in a hurry.

 

Rory Anderson (6-5,240) had 17 catches at TE in 2013. Jerell Adams (6-6,235) might be the more explosive of the two after catching 13 and a couple of TDs. Drew Owens (6-6,245) is also back.

Kevin Cosby (6-1,240) is a shorter TE coming in with this current recruiting class and should redshirt.

 

 

South Carolina has some quality in the Offensive Line and plenty of size, but they don’t have that much depth.

They do have a couple of the better tackles in the country in Brandon Shell (6-6,320) and Corey Robinson (6-8,340). These guys are huge and experienced which should make Dylan Thompson feel pretty good as he drops back to throw.

AJ Cann (6-4,315) is back at LG and he’s one of the top guards in the country.

Back ups are huge as well in Mason Zandi (6-9,295), DJ Park (6-4,335) and Cody Gibson (6-7,290)

Starting Left Guard should be Brock Stadnik (6-5,285) but Will Sport (6-5,295) and Bryce King (6-3,285) could contribute. They also have incoming freshmen Donell Stanley (6-4,310) and Malik Young (6-3,285) but I am sure the coaching staff would prefer redshirting them.

 

Cody Waldrop (6-2,320) returns at center and so does Clayton Stadnik (6-3,280)

 

 

Defense has been really strong at South Carolina for a while. It can’t help to lose players of the talent level of Clowney and Quarles.

To make matters worse, DB Victor Hampton also left early. I love the NFL and I don’t blame the guys for leaving and taking the money but it sure isn’t good for my favorite game, college football and not all of the players leaving are even going to get drafted.

 

JT Surratt (6-2,305) returns at tackle after making 33 tackles a year ago.

Defensive line has 2 Gerald Dixon’s and the Gerald Dixon Jr (6-2,315) is playing at tackle while the other Gerald Dixon is at DE and they should both start. This is pretty confusing.

The DE Gerald Dixon (6-2,270) didn’t play a lot, but will be pressed into duty pretty quickly.

Phillip Dukes (6-3,315) and Kelsey Griffin (6-2,290) are also very solid at tackle and provide good depth.

Darrius English (6-6,225) is young but talented and should start at the other end.

The Gamecocks need recruits Dante Sawyer (6-3,250) a 4 star out of Georgia and Dexter Wideman (6-4,275) also a 4 star, to come ready to play.

They do have 2 JC DTs coming in as well which should help out a lot. Jhaustin Thomas (6-6,275) and Abu Lamin (6-4,300) are a couple of the best JC DTs in the country.

 

At LB, Skai Moore (6-2,205) led the entire team in tackles in 2013 as a freshman and Kaiwan Lewis (6-0,220) was third in tackles as a sophomore. Skai Moore also led the team in interceptions with 4. Still another sophomore, Marcquis Roberts (6-1,225) was in the top 5 among tacklers. TJ Holloman (6-2,220) was 8th in tackles.

LB crew was very young but productive and they should be improved with seasoning.

 

Defensive backfield lost a lot on the corners.

Ahmad Christian 5-10,190) did play some but the rest are really green. Rico McWilliams (5-11,185) , Sidney Rhodes (5-10,170) and Ali Groves (5-10,185) will fight it out for the other position.

 

Four guys played a lot at safety and all are back. TJ Gurley (5-10,195) Brison Williams (5-11,215) Chaz Elder (6-2,200) and Kadetrix Marcus (6-1,195) provide plenty of talent and depth.

 

South Carolina should be pretty good again this season, maybe a little down from last. But, they should be competitive with most teams they face.

Texas A&M, Georgia, and Missouri come to Columbia while South Carolina visits Auburn, Florida and Clemson. Schedule is not super tough, but they do have some hurdles to get over. I am thinking they finish at least 8-4 on the season or better.

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