South Carolina Preview
Of the teams I have written previews for this year I am not sure that South Carolina belongs among them. The Gamecocks played in a New Year’s Day Bowl last season, but they were the only team to lose to a Big Ten team in a bowl game. Since most of the media seems to think the Big Ten is the worst conference in the history of college football at the moment, that loss seems like a fate worse than death. When South Carolina hired Steve Spurrier as its head coach a few years ago they dreamed of having him turn their program into a juggernaut like he did at Florida. That has yet to happen, though there is some hope that this is the year that things will turn around.
Honestly, South Carolina is not going to do much until it can compete with Florida and Georgia in its won division. Those two teams are far and away better than the other four, while South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are all pretty even. This year Florida comes to Columbia, while the Gamecocks must go to Georgia. That is probably the fairest trade between the two. Trips to Alabama and North Carolina State will not be easy either. It could be a good season for the Gamecocks, but it is still not one in which fans should expect an SEC title.
Stephen Garcia is now the unquestioned starter after Spurrier played musical quarterbacks for most of last season. That can be a good things and a bad thing. He has tremendous talent. He is a mobile quarterback who can make things happen with either his feet or his arm. Unfortunately, he has not exactly endeared himself to local law enforcement officials. He has been arrested multiple times and has been suspended a few times in his career for off the field incidents. If he can take things seriously South Carolina should be much better on offense. Brian Maddox and Jarvis Giles will also provide him with plenty of help in the backfield at the running back position. They can take the load off of Garcia in the running game and make defenses creep up. That will allow Garcia to throw to a talented group of receivers.
The defense also returns plenty of experience that should help this team make a quick turnaround. Only one starter needs to be replaced on the defensive line. That line performed well at times, but against good teams like Florida it was shredded. The real strength of the defense lies in linebacker Eric Norwood. South Carolina likes to use him as a pass rusher in addition to his duties as a linebacker. He had nine sacks last season and 75 tackles. He will be helped out by a very promising middle linebacker in Rodney Paulk. Paulk was injured last season, but now that he is healthy South Carolina should be a much better team as a result of it. If they can help out on pass defense things will be even better.
Bobby Johnson is a sports writer for www.sportsfantreasures.com.
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