South Carolina Preview 2006 Further Analysis
South Carolina Gamecocks
Posted Aug 8, 2006

South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The wake-up call? – Coming out of the 2004 season, the Gamecock running back situation looked to be extremely strong entering the Steve Spurrier era in 2005 with Demetrius Summers and Cory Boyd forming a brilliant 1-2 punch.  But, then Summers was sent packing for good, making Cory Boyd the number one back on campus.  Uh, not for long.  Boyd was suspended last season as well, which left Spurrier and the Gamecock coaching staff in somewhat of a lurch.  But, Mike Davis scratched and clawed his way for meaningful yards in key games and the Gamecocks received a berth in the Independence Bowl without Boyd and his myriad of explosive offensive skills.  Perhaps motivated by the success South Carolina had without him or simply by the wake-up call that he was handed, the New Jersey native rode the straight and narrow and earned his way back on the team for the fall.  And, he’ll be back with something to prove.  At 6’1 and 210 pounds, Boyd is a blend of speed, power and versatility.  Case in point, in 2004, Boyd averaged five yards per carry, but also caught 35 balls out of the backfield.  In Spurrier’s offense, a back, with good hands, who can be a true receiving threat out of the backfield is gold, and that’s what Boyd can bring to this offense alongside Davis.  He had a tremendous spring game and showed the explosiveness that the Gamecocks seemed to lack in an every down back.  Davis is dependable, but Boyd is something else.  It’s a little like the Eli Williams/Fred Taylor battle that Spurrier had down at Florida in the mid-1990s.  Williams did enough to keep the job, but Taylor was so explosive.  Eventually, Williams went over to defense to help a beleaguered secondary and Taylor became a first round NFL draft pick.  Is Boyd that good at this point?  Probably not, but then again, Spurrier does see a lot of Taylor in him.  The good news is that the young man is back in the program and around his football family.  The even better news for Boyd will be when he helps lead them back to a bowl game.

2nd and Seven – Man, what’s wrong with my screen? Watching the Gamecocks last year on the widescreen HDTV set, the screen kept getting blocked or so it seemed.  Huge garnet rectangle on the screen.  This is supposed to be widescreen, but all it shows is that guy’s backside.  C’mon, what’s wrong with the screen, take the zoom off.  Well, when it comes to looking at 6’, 335 pound Stanley Doughty, he’ll definitely make you think that something is wrong with your television, because that guy is that big.  And, in 2006, he’ll be a big cog in the run defense that must improve on their 85th ranked run defense, IF he can be motivated and in shape (hopefully, for Gamecock fans, he’s not one of those guys who Spurrier noted this summer as missing ‘voluntary’ workouts).  Doughty is a unique type of defensive tackle/nose tackle – he has the quickness to be a one gap penetrating force, but he has the size and leverage advantage to be a two gap run stuffer.  He’s got to play this year with a higher motor and demand double teams throughout the year to give the linebackers space to run to the ball.  But, if the spring is any indication, all he’ll do is continue to clog up the screen and not be as productive as he can be.  And, that’ll be a shame.  For Gamecock fans, and for your TV.

3rd and Three – Shane Matthews or Terry Dean? – Since he’s been the head coach at Duke, quarterbacks on teams coached by Steve Spurrier have been the focal point of any team.  Ben Bennett became a record setting QB from Spurrier’s tutelage at Duke.  Shane Matthews was an All-SEC QB for three years serving under Spurrier in the early 1990s.  Most everyone knows what Spurrier did with Danny Wuerffel – the only coach/QB combination to both have won the Heisman Trophy.  But for all of the great ones that he tutored, there have also been the Bobby Sabelhouses and the Terry Deans – physically talented and gifted recruits who turned into marginal (at best) college football players.  Although it was only year one in the Blake Mitchell era, which QB’s path does Mitchell follow?  Does he continue to develop like Matthews did, perhaps the one QB who closest resembles Mitchell in physical appearance and skills.  Or, does he regress into Dean, perhaps the only guy to go from Heisman candidate to second team all in one year?  Mitchell isn’t blessed with a howitzer of a right arm, but that’s never been a huge consideration for Spurrier’s QBs.  When he was in the lineup, the Gamecocks battled hard with him there and were competitive every week.  That’s not a coincidence at all.  Mitchell should continue to get better and more efficient, and that’s a scary thought.  Now, all he has to do is hold off Cade Thompson for the starting job.  Typical Spurrier QB ‘situation’.

4th and One – The Lone Ranger – Before the 2005 season, Fred Bennett was thought to be one of the best defensive backs in the SEC.  By the end of the 2005 season, Bennett was not even considered to be the best defensive back on his own team.  Okay, so that’s not really a slight, given the fact that his teammate and fellow cornerback Johnathan Joseph became a first round draft pick last April.  But, by the end of 2006, Bennett could also put himself in that first round mix for the 2007 draft, as well.  He’s 6’1” and nearly 200 pounds, perfect size for an NFL corner and the ‘attitude’ to match.  Teams won’t challenge him much this year, and with good reason.  If Bennett’s presence shuts down one side of the field, then the secondary should be on par with the unit that was 22nd in the nation in pass defense.

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