2008 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Preview
South Carolina 2007 Record: (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
2007 Bowl: none
South Carolina Head Coach: Steve Spurrier (21-16 at South Carolina, 163-56-2 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Steve Spurrier
Defensive Coordinator: Ellis Johnson
Returning Leaders for the Gamecocks:
Other Key Returnees: DT Ladi Ajiboye, G Heath Batchelor, G Seaver Brown, DT Marque Hall, WR Dion Lecorn, LB Cliff Matthews, OT Jamon Meredith, LB Rodney Paulk, LB Marvin Sapp, OT Justin Sorensen, S Darian Stewart, K/P Ryan Succop, CB Carlos Thomas
Key Losses: TE Andy Boyd, RB Cory Boyd, DE Casper Brinkley, C William Brown, QB Blake Mitchell, FB Lanard Stafford
This is the supposed to be the year where everything comes together for Coach Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. After a few years of getting his players into the program, Coach Spurrier finally has some quality depth to work with. A couple upsets here and there is not good enough anymore and consistency will be the key if Coach Spurrier is ever going to make the Gamecocks a winner in the Southeastern Conference.
South Carolina's Strengths:
The defense was supposed to be great last year, and some of it was, but this should be the year that potential leads to production. New defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has made a few changes to help bolster a run defense that ranked last in the conference. End Eric Norwood, who led the team with six sacks, is now a linebacker and former linebacker Cliff Matthews made the opposite switch. That might help the defense a little bit, but the return of linebacker Casper Brinkley will make a huge difference. Brinkley missed last season with a knee injury and the defense never recovered from his absence. This year he will be the leader of a much more experienced group. The best part of the defense last year was the secondary who did an amazing job considering the front four failed to get much pressure on the quarterback. With four starters returning, they will be even better this season. Safety Emanuel Cook and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn are two of the best in the conference.
South Carolina's Weaknesses:
It is a good thing that the depth is beginning to build up at South Carolina. The offense has quite a few holes to fill, most notably at quarterback and running back. Chris Smelley has some starting experience under the center, but his nine touchdowns and seven interceptions last season did not give him the starting job heading into the season. At the end of spring practice junior Tommy Beecher was named the starter, but the most talented quarterback on the roster might be redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia. Garcia’s off the field issues have hindered his ability to take advantage of the poor play by Smelley and Beecher. At running back the battle is on to replace Cory Boyd. Mike Davis, a senior, rushed for 518 yards and five touchdowns last year, but sophomore Brian Maddox will at least get some carries. Even when the offense does struggle, the Gamecocks do have one of the best kickers and punters in the nation in Ryan Succop and that is extremely valuable in low scoring games.
The Bottom Line for the Gamecocks:
Even if the quarterback and running back situations are taken care of, USC still needs a better performance from the offensive line if they want to win the SEC East. Having Kenny McKinley, Dion Lecorn and Jared Cook back to catch some passes should make the quarterback’s job easier, but it will not matter if he does not have any time to throw the ball.
2007 South Carolina Gamecocks Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 113.67 (101st in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 258.17 (37, 3)
Total Offense: 371.83 (77, 8)
Scoring Offense: 26.08 (70, 8)
Rushing Defense: 209.33 (110, 12)
Pass Defense: 168.75 (4, 1)
Total Defense: 378.08 (56, 9)
Scoring Defense: 23.50 (39, 7)
Turnover Margin: -.58 (101, 11)
Sacks: 1.67 (88, 11)
Sacks Allowed: 2.58 (92, 11)
By Joel Welser
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