2013 South Carolina Spring Football Analysis
South Carolina Gamecocks 2013 ... Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Why To Be Excited ... Jadeveon Clowney isn’t in the NFL. While he should be protecting his investment – a $5 million insurance policy doesn’t cover nearly enough – he’s going to be cranking it up full tilt as the signature star of the 2013 season not named Manziel. While the defense that finished 11th in the nation has some key holes to fill, the offensive side should be settled after spending the last part of last season getting used to life without Marcus Lattimore. Losing receiver Ace Sanders takes away an all-around playmaker, but Bruce Ellington is a good No. 1 target and Nick Jones, Shaq Roland and Damiere Byrd are set to start doing more. The backfield will be fine without Lattimore and Kenny Miles thanks to the return of Brandon Wilds from injury and Mike Davis looking to do more behind a line that welcomes back four starters, and the quarterback situation will be … well … interesting. There are options now with Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson each in the mix for playing time, but …
8/31 North Carolina
9/7 at Georgia
9/21 OPEN DATE
9/28 at UCF
10/12 at Arkansas
10/19 at Tennessee
10/26 at Missouri
11/2 Mississippi State
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/23 Coastal Carolina
Why To Be Grouchy ... It might be Steve Spurrier’s M.O. to rotate quarterbacks depending on the situation and the timing, but it would be nice if Shaw or Thompson could separate from the other this offseason. They’ll both get their chances, but by the time the season kicks off against North Carolina, there will likely be starter 1 and 1A on the depth chart. The spotlight, though, will be on a defense that loses seven starters including Devin Taylor off the line and linebackers Reginald Bowens, Shaq Wilson and DeVonte Holloman. Throw in the loss of defensive backs D.J. Swearinger and Akeem Auguste, and this might be just enough of a step back to be the difference between another good season and an SEC East title.
What Needs Working On ... The offensive line has to block someone. Pass protection has always been optional under Spurrier, and Connor Shaw is a bit of a runner and took a few too many sacks, but the line has to be far better and far stronger. Again, this is nothing new, and the Gamecocks have been just fine with mediocre front fives, but there isn’t a Marcus Lattimore-like talent running the ball and Shaw and Thompson aren’t elite passers who can thrive on timing patterns. After allowing 38 sacks and paving the way for just 138 yards per game and just one rushing score over the final three games, the O line, and not the defense, could be the key to the offseason.
Non-Conference Games: North Carolina, at UCF, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
Games Against The West: at Arkansas, Mississippi State
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 7-5
Likely Finish: 10-2
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: North Carolina, Vanderbilt, at UCF, Kentucky, at Arkansas, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Georgia, at Missouri
Schedule Analysis: The season starts out with a bang and never lets up. North Carolina is a dangerous was to open up a campaign, but that’s just the warm-up act with the SEC East possibly on the line a week later with a road trip to Georgia. Throw in a date against Vanderbilt, and the Gamecocks have three great tests before hitting September 15th. It’s not like they’ll need the week off before diving into the middle part of the slate, but they’ll get it.
Going to UCF isn’t going to be a walk in the park to kick off a run of four road games in five weeks with only a home date against Kentucky to ease the pain. Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri didn’t go bowling last year, but they’re all going to be better and they’ll all be looking to make a statement at home – but that’s it for the travels. The game in Columbia, Missouri on October 26th is the last road date. Mississippi State will be another fight before getting a week off to prepare for the home game against Florida. The team deserves a breather against Coastal Carolina before finishing up with Clemson.
Team Concerns For 2013: The offensive line could stand some improvement in pass protection. It's been a constant problem under Steve Spurrier, and it was a big issue last year with the O line giving up almost three sacks per game. Considering the inconsistencies up front, the quarterback situation has to be settled early, or it'll be year of rotating passers Spurrier-style. As good as the defense was, and athletic as it'll be coming back, only four starters return losing almost all the linebackers. The punting game was the worst in the SEC netting a mere 36 yards per kick with Tyler Hull averaging 39.4 yards per boot.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. There isn't a Jadeveon Clowney coming in, but tackle Kelsey Griffin is a big-time option for the interior while Devante Covington, Devin Washington and David Johnson are good pass rushing options on the outside. JUCO transfer Alfy Hill might see time right away in the end rotation. Linebacker Larenz Bryant, running back David Williams and offensive tackle D.J. Peek are nice gets, but they aren't among the superstar prospects other top SEC teams are bringing in.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 15. That Class Was Heavy On ... The Gamecocks need skill players to load up for the future. The last two classes have been about the superstars up top, with Jadeveon Clowney the big get last year and Marcus Lattimore the star of 2010, but there’s work needing to be done to get the offensive playmakers in place for 2013 and beyond. The receiving corps needs to be addressed, but there isn’t one glaring weakness.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
11. That Class Was Heavy On ... the secondary.
Getting Jadeveon Clowney is the crown jewel, but he's hardly the only
key part of the class. While there are big-time stars all across the board, led by top offensive tackle Brandon Shell, running back Shon Carson, and lightning fast receiver Damiere Byrd, the secondary got the most help with several terrific prospects including safety Sheldon Royster, who might be thrown on the field right away, and Brison Williams, who’s ready-made to make an instant impact after spending last year at Fork Union Military Academy. Throw in corners Ahmad Christian and Ronnie Martin, the defensive backfield that struggled so much last year should be better soon.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 28. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Marcus Lattimore.
Steve Spurrier focused mostly on the secondary with
five defensive back prospects signed who need to
develop quickly. There isn't a star of the lot, but
Victor Hampton with his tremendous speed comes
close. The passing game got a little help with QB
Connor Shaw and a few decent receivers including Ace
Sanders, a 5-7 speedster, but the entire class, and
especially the offense, revolves around Lattimore,
Scout.com's No. 1 ranked back. The 6-0, 207 pounder
picked the Gamecocks over Auburn, Florida State, and
Georgia, among others, and he'll be the centerpiece
of the Spurrier offense very, very soon.
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 9. That Class Was
Heavy On ... linebacker. The Gamecocks loaded up at wide receiver with Alshon Jeffrey and Lamar Scruggs excellent prospects, and the safeties are tremendous with Stephon Gilmore and Quin Smith stars for the future. The stars are at linebacker with Devonte Holloman and Damario Jeffery safety-sized defenders who could blow up after a little bit of time in the weight room, while JUCO transfers Tony Straughter and Josh Dickerson looking to see time early on.