South Carolina Preview 2006
Posted Aug 8, 2006

South Carolina Gamecocks Preview 2006

- South Carolina Preview | Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

There wasn't much gun, but there was a whole bunch of fun.

No one was expecting the Florida Gators of the 1990s right off the bat when Steve Spurrier was hired to revive the sagging program, but the hearty Gamecock fans were hoping for some magic. They got it with a winning season and a bowl appearance from a marginally talented team that won all the games it was supposed to, and two it shouldn't have.  

It's amazing how off-the-field scandals, a brawl, and the three straight mediocre seasons can be wiped away by a five-game winning streak including upsets over Tennessee and Florida. While those two stunning victories made national news, the joy quickly subsided after a fourth straight loss to arch-rival Clemson and a bowl loss to Missouri to prove that Saint Spurrier wasn't totally infallible. Now the expectations are starting to grow.

Head coach: Steve Spurrier
2nd year: 7-5
17th year overall: 149-45-2
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 18, Def. 19, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best USC Players
1. WR Sidney Rice, Soph.
2. CB Fred Bennett, Sr.
3. RB Mike Davis, Soph.
4. RB Cory Boyd, Jr.
5. QB Blake Mitchell, Jr.
6. OT Gurminder Thind, Soph.
7. LB Jasper Brinkley, Jr.
8. DT Kendrick Ellis, Fr.
9. C Chris White, Sr.
10. WR/DB Syvelle Newton, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

8/31 at Miss State
9/9 Georgia
9/16 Wofford
9/23 Florida Atlantic
9/28 Auburn
10/7 at Kentucky
10/21 at Vanderbilt
10/28 Tennessee
11/4 Arkansas
11/11 at Florida
11/18 MTSU
11/25 at Clemson

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 UCF W 24-15
9/10 at Georgia L 17-15
9/17 Alabama  L 37-14
9/24 Troy W 40-25
10/1 at Auburn L 48-7
10/8 Kentucky  W 44-16
10/22 Vanderbilt W 35-28
10/29 at Tennessee W 16-15
11/5 at Arkansas W 14-10
11/12 Florida W 30-22
11/19 Clemson L 13-9
12/30 Independence Bowl
Missouri L 38-31

The amazing thing about the success of last season was how average the offense was. Oh sure, it carved up the Kentuckys and Vanderbilts of the world, but it was able to beat Florida despite putting up a mere 246 total yards of offense, and beat Arkansas with only 187 yards of total offense. This team found a way to win with timely defense, some clutch special teams play, and with just enough offensive production to get by. Can that be enough to win again?

South Carolina isn't on the verge of being a national superpower, but it does provide a major annoyance to the major players in the SEC East. Florida is about to be much, much better under Urban Meyer, Tennessee isn't going to be as mediocre as last year, and Georgia isn't about to slip under Mark Richt. As good as Spurrier and his staff might be, 2005 might be the last time the Gamecocks beat two of the beat three for a long, long time unless the talent level takes a major upturn.

This is a nice team with some next-level parts, but it's hardly a complete one. Wide receiver Sidney Rice is among the best in America, the 1-2 rushing punch of Mike Davis and Cory Boyd is tremendous, and cornerback Fred Bennett could be the SEC's best cover man. Beyond that, the Gamecocks are woefully undermanned compared to the LSUs, Auburns, Floridas, and other top SEC teams. That's not to say Spurrier isn't going to win his share of games this season, but this isn't going to be that contending year many are hoping for even with a relatively easy schedule with an all-but-gift-wrapped six wins.

Like last year, everything Spurrier does will be weekly news. He's still one of the game's biggest names, and he obviously hasn't lost a step. The SEC is a better place with him back.

The Schedule: If Spurrier can work his magic and make the team a little bit better, the potential is there for an amazing start with the toughest games coming at home before going to Florida in mid-November. Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee and Arkansas are good, but the Gamecocks have to win at least two of those games in Columbia. Going to Clemson could be a very sour way to end the regular season.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore WR Sidney Rice. Rice emerged as one of the nation's best receivers at the end of last year cranking out 845 yards and nine touchdowns in the final seven games. He's a big, strong, talented target who'll make some NFL team very happy in the near future as long as he can stay healthy.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Fred Bennett. He's hardly a household name, but he's about to be a hot commodity in NFL draft circles. He's a safety-sized 6-1 and 199 pounds with tremendous speed and cover skills. He'll be in the hunt for All-America honors if he's able to put up any stats. No one will throw his way.

Key player to a successful season: Junior DT Stanley Doughty. The 6-0, 331-pound tackle has all the talent in the world, but it's hiding under about 30 pounds. He needs to be more consistent and he has to hit the elliptical machine to get down to a quicker, more effective 310 pounds. If he doesn't have a big year, the average line will have major problems.

The season will be a success if ... the Gamecocks win eight games. This team isn't great, but it should be able to show up and beat Wofford, Florida Atlantic and MTSU. It might not be a walk in the park, but it has to sweep road games at Mississippi State, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and it needs to come up with home wins over someone like Arkansas to be in the hunt for another bowl season and a step in the right direction.

Key game: Sept. 9 vs. Georgia. USC gave the Dawgs all they could handle in a 17-15 loss in Athens last season. A win at home over the defending SEC champions would show that the team is going to be good enough to be in the hunt for the East title. This also might be a must win or else a 1-2 SEC start is possible with a date with Auburn ahead two weeks later.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Time of possession: Opponents 32:08 - South Carolina 27:52
- Second quarter scoring: Opponents 95 - South Carolina 48
- Fourth down conversions: Opponents 15 of 29 (41%) - South Carolina 5 of 14 (34%)

The Last Time South Carolina…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Independence Bowl vs. Missouri)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2000 (New Mexico State)
…was shutout…2002 (Arkansas)
…scored 50 points…1995 (Vanderbilt)
…went undefeated…1907
…won a conference title…1969 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1995 (Steve Taneyhill)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2000 (Derek Watson)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (Sidney Rice)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (CB Johnathan Joseph)

Related Stories
South Carolina Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
South Carolina Preview 2006 Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 8, 2006
South Carolina Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 8, 2006

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