2011-2012 Football Previews – SEC – South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier – “The Ole Ball Coach” – finally moved his Gamecocks forward in 2010, where they snagged nine wins and represented the SEC East in the title game.
SEC 2011-12 Football Previews: South Carolina Gamecocks
Coach: Steve Spurrier
2010 Record: 9-5
South Carolina Gambling Odds from Bodog.com to win BCS: +3000
South Carolina Team Page – Players Stats – Roster – 2011 Schedule –>
Even in the best of times, SC isn’t perfect and there were some questions last year, with more this year – notably under center. Still, this is a team with clear-cut strengths in important areas. That translates to Carolina matching up well with any team in its division in 2011 and perhaps representing the East in the SEC Championship once again.
It took seven years, but investing in the former Florida wunderkind head coach seems to be paying off in Columbia.
Simply put, RB Marcus Lattimore is a horse. The sophomore will run the ball until he can’t physically move his body and his 230-lb frame can wear down even the nastiest SEC defensive units. Lattimore was merely the #1 RB recruit in the nation coming out of high school and earned National Freshman of the Year honors.
Pair Lattimore with WR Alshon Jeffery, and you have probably the scariest tandem of skill players in college football. Jeffery is also a physical freak at 6”4, 233 lbs (huge for an NFL wideout, no less a collegian) and combines soft hands with body control and speed. There are some question marks at QB for the Gamecocks, but this pair will doubtlessly ease the learning curve.
When looking at the “D”, CB Stephon Gilmore stands out as a player. He joins senior Akeem Auguste and junior D.J. Swearinger to make an imposing secondary.
Elsewhere, SC nabbed the top recruit in the country this past year in DE Jadeveon Clowney; he’ll get tutelage from excellent junior DE Devin Taylor and will likely become an impact SEC defender.
The team finally had enough of veteran QB Stephen Garcia’s antics, and kicked him off the team in the off-season. For all of Garcia’s goofball behavior, having a steadying presence under center was important for the SC offense. In steps sophomore Connor Shaw, whom Spurrier has expressed confidence in, but still carries some uncertainties. [soliloquy id=”82219″]
Shaw’s size is less than ideal and we really haven’t seen him throw the ball much.
There is also much left to be desired on the offensive line and on the special teams unit for South Carolina in 2011.
2011-12 South Carolina Football Prediction: 10-4
The aforementioned combo of Lattimore and Jeffery is scary; so long as the offense rides on the coattails of these two, it should be fine. The offense also takes a tangible step forward if Shaw exceeds expectations as the starting pivot.
On Sept. 10, SC travels Between the Hedges to play the Bulldogs at Georgia. That will be a crucial game for the division, because it seems that with Florida in a down year, if Carolina can best Georgia, the East division crown is theirs for the taking.
The Gamecocks have enough defense to get the job done and so long as Spurrier keeps his troops hungry and Lattimore doesn’t wear down, Carolina looks like a surefire SEC contender.
2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Schedule
9/3/11 12:00 PM ET ECAR
9/10/11 4:30 PM ET @GEO
9/17/11 6:00 PM ET NAVY
9/24/11 12:00 PM ET VAN
10/1/11 12:00 PM ET AUB
10/8/11 12:00 PM ET KENTY
10/15/11 12:00 PM ET @MISST
10/29/11 12:00 PM ET @TENN
11/5/11 12:00 PM ET @ARK
11/12/11 12:00 PM ET FLA
11/19/11 12:00 PM ET CITDL
11/26/11 12:00 PM ET CLEM
Steve Janus has more 2011 South Carolina Football Predictions at Betfirms