2009 South Carolina Preview - Offense
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia
Posted Jun 10, 2009

CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - South Carolina Gamecock Offense

South Carolina Gamecocks

Preview 2009
- Offense

- 2009 CFN South Carolina Preview | 2009 South Carolina Offense
- 2009 South Carolina Defense | 2009 South Carolina Depth Chart
- 2008 USC Preview | 2007 USC Preview | 2006 USC Preview

What you need to know: A funny thing happens when your offensive line doesn't block anyone. The line has been a problem under Steve Spurrier, and it bottomed out last year allowing 39 sacks and everything went into the tank from there. There wasn't an interception the quarterback didn't like to throw, and often at the most inopportune times, and while they have to be blamed for making too many mistakes, they were also getting knocked all over the place thanks to the poor play of the line. This year, the line should be better, it can't be worse, with plenty of veterans to work around. Unlike past years there likely won't be a revolving door at quarterback. Stephen Garcia should be the starting quarterback as long as his off-the-field problems stop, and there isn't a No. 2 to get the call unless disaster strikes. The backfield has decent running back options to try out, led by true freshman Jarvis Giles, and the receiving corps is interesting, if not polished. There's plenty of size and potential match-up options at receiver, but the corps will miss Kenny McKinley.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Stephen Garcia
65-122, 832 yds, 6 TD, 8 INT
Rushing: Stephen Garcia
70 carries, 198 yds, 2 TD
Moe Brown
30 catches, 391 yards, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Stephen Garcia
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior WR Moe Brown
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Jarriel King
Best pro prospect: Senior C Garrett Anderson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Garcia, 2) Anderson, 3) Brown
Strength of the offense: Quick running back, Receiver size
Weakness of the offense: Pass protection, No. 2 Quarterback


Projected Starter
There hasn't been any sort of a question regarding Stephen Garcia's talent and upside. He has 6-2, 219-pound size, good toughness to be able to handle himself well against a steady pass rush, and the mental make-up to handle the harsh coaching from Spurrier. He has a cannon for an arm, great running ability, and the potential to be one of the SEC's better all-around playmakers. He's also an All-SEC caliber knucklehead. From arrests to being suspended for stretches, he hasn't been mature enough to be counted on since he arrived in Columbia, but he may have turned to the corner this offseason as he's been more of a leader and ready to take advantage of the big opportunity. He started three times last year completing 53% of his passes for 832 yards and six touchdowns with eight interception, and he was second on the team with 198 rushing yards and two scores.

Projected Top Reserves: Redshirt freshman Reid McCollum was seen as a possible option last year in his first season, but he was able to redshirt. Now he's the No. 2 option with a live arm and pro style passing ability. While he's not a runner like Garcia, he's not immobile. But his skill is as a pinpoint passer with 6-3, 218-pound size and great upside.

Zac Brindise, the brother of former Florida quarterback Noah Brindise, walked on to the team and isn't going to be used as anything more than scout teamer. He's a smart passer who's good in practice, but he's only 6-1 and 216 pounds and he's not a bomber.

Redshirt freshman Aramis Hillary is the most dangerous rushing option in the equation. He was a good recruit who was out of the mix right away after suffering a knee injury, but the 6-0, 197 pounder is very fast, has a decent arm, and is just good enough to be the curveball for Spurrier to use to throw off a defense.

Watch Out For ... Garcia to be fantastic. He's the man now and he appears ready to take the responsibility seriously. Most importantly, football-wise, he limited his interceptions and his mistakes this offseason and should be more careful with the ball.
The coaching ... allegedly. The Spurrier mystique and coaching ability hasn't done enough for the passing game over the last few years, but he's still considered to be one of the gurus. If he can combine forces with a steady Garcia and everything maintains an even keel, the result could be special.
The backups. Chris Smelley left to play baseball meaning the quarterbacking will be up to Garcia and Garcia. There can't be a rotation like there's been in the past because there isn't a sure-thing No. 2 even thogh McCollum should be good in time.
Outlook: Can South Carolina finally start to throw the ball with some semblance of consistency and efficiency? Garcia, if he keeps progressing, is the type of player who'll give the team a puncher's chance against anyone in the SEC, but there's nothing to count on behind him. McCollum is fine, but he'll need another year to progress.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

Projected Starters
Junior Brian Maddox was supposed to be a No. 2 back going into last year, but he saw limited work finishing fourth on the team with just 121 yards and a touchdown in seven games of work. the 5-11, 224-pounder isn't the type of runner who'll make things happen on his own, but he brings good power and decent hands for the passing game. He's a serviceable back who can carry a running game for stretches.

Projected Top Reserves: The team's most talented back is true freshman Jarvis Giles, a 5-11, 183-pound speedster who tore up the good Gamecock defense this spring finishing with 114 yards and two scores on just 12 carries in the final game. He ran for more than 3,000 yards in his final two seasons in high school and was given the full-court press by Tennessee and Nebraska before signing on with USC. He'll do everything well working as a receiver as well as a runner.

Eric Baker saw key carries as a true freshman finishing third on the team with 182 yards while catching nine passes for 108 yards. At 5-11 and 194 pounds, he has decent size to go along with his home-run hitting speed. He could grow into a specialist, third-down back sort of role, and he can also carry the ground game for stretches if needed. He'll be used as a change-of-pace runner behind Maddox.

When the offense uses a fullback, which isn't all that often, it has a veteran to count on in junior Patrick DiMarco, a 6-0, 243-pound blocker who won't get any carries but will catch a few passes now and then. He's a good veteran who'll do a little of everything well, but he'll almost exclusively be a blocker for the running game.

Watch Out For ... Giles. He was the best back in spring ball and it's not going to be long before the running back by rotation concept goes out the window. He's too good to not have the ball in his hands.
Young potential. Giles is a good one, Baker has the upside to come up with just enough big plays to get excited, and Maddox is a solid pounder. This is a group that should be able to grow into their jobs over the year before blowing up next season.
Production. Sacks were part of the final equation, but the rushing total was an embarrassment finishing with just 1,223 yards and seven scores. More help from the O line is needed, but the backs have to be more productive when they get their chances.
Outlook: The backs have speed and upside, but they need help from the rest of the offense. This won't be a strong enough stable of backs to carry the attack against the better SEC defense, but there will be moments when everything clicks and there are some big plays. If Giles turns out to be the real deal, the entire equation changes.
Rating: 6


Projected Starters
Moe Brown is the team's leading returning receiver after catching 30 passes for 391 yards and a touchdown averaging 13 yards per catch. The 6-0, 183-pound senior is a field-stretching speedster who can do everything but catch. While he was better this offseason and appears to be ready to take a step forward and be a No. 1 target, he's not a consistent pass catcher and needs to be able to make every grab.

5-11, 220-pound sophomore Dion LeCorn spent the end of last year working at safety making six tackles to go along with 41 career catches for 421 yards and five scores over the last two years on offense. He suffered a leg injury in spring ball that required surgery, but he's expected to be ready for the start of the season and he should be a strong, physical target with just enough speed to get deep speed to be a reliable weapon.

Sophomore Jason Barnes brings excellent size and good potential as the team's only returning starting receiver. He stepped up and made 27 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns, highlighted by a seven-grab, 76-yard, two score day in the win over Ole Miss. At 6-4 and 199 pounds, he's a tall target who creates big matchup problems.

Trying to replace Jared Cook at tight end will be junior Weslye Saunders after catching 16 passes for 214 yards and three scores. While the 6-5, 280-pounder isn't Cook as a target, he can get down the field surprisingly well and can make big plays on the move. A good blocker for his size, he's a good hitter for the running game and can outmuscle anyone for the ball when it's thrown his way.

Projected Top Reserves: Sophomore Joe Hills has all the skills and all the potential to be a major factor after catching 11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown as a spot starter. At 6-4 and 199 pounds he's a tall, thin target with the upside to grow into a potential leading receiver, but he has to do a better job of route running and he has to be more consistent working behind Moe Brown.

One of the team's most interesting receiving options will be Tori Gurley, a 6-5, 227-pound redshirt freshman with good enough catching ability to become a reliable go-to receiver on key plays. He's not a tight end; he's a big wide receiver who'll work in a rotation with Barnes on the outside.

Redshirt freshman walk-on Andrew Power isn't going to be used too much as a receiver, but at 6-4 and 253 pounds he has the size the coaching staff wants for the position and he's a willing blocker. He'll combine with Mike Triglia, a 6-3, 231-pound redshirt freshman who'll be expected to be the receiver that Power isn't.

Watch Out For ... someone to emerge from the pack and be a from-out-of-nowhere star. There are several interesting prospects with good size and decent athleticism among the young, unproven talents. Will it be Gurley? Maybe redshirt freshman D.L. Moore, or maybe Hills, but the depth chart won't be the same for too long. 
Size. This is a big, physical group with the coaching staff going out to make sure the corps is a large one. There aren't any jitterbug quick speedsters here, this is a corps full of nice-sized targets.
Proven production. Kenny McKinley was the school's all-time leading receiver and Cook was a special tight end. These two combined to make 91 catches and were the team's most dangerous weapons, and it'll take a lot to fill those holes. The offense has to find someone who can make defenses worry.
Outlook: The strength of the offense last year, now the receivers are going to need time and some seasoning. Unlike last year when McKinley and Cook did what they could to make the quarterbacks better, now it'll be up to Stephen Garcia to make the receivers look good. There's potential and there are plenty of good options, but Brown, Barnes, and LeCorn have to go from good to great and the backups have to come together in a hurry this fall. They will. In time, this will be a good group.
Rating: 7

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
With the changes being made on the line and with the idea being that something has to start working and with all the spots open, one of the players certain to be back at a starting spot is Garrett Anderson at center. The 6-4, 307-pound senior has started 21 times over the course of his career stepping up and being one of the few bright spots through all 13 games. He started out his career at guard and overcame a back problem to be a rock in the middle, and now he needs to be even steadier.

The other relatively secure spot is left tackle with Jarriel King returning after starting 11 games. One of the team's most talented linemen, the 6-5, 312-pound junior came to USC as a defensive end from the JUCO ranks, and while he wasn't steady and he still needs polish, he showed enough to be counted on again this year and to grow into the job over the next two years. He has to be stronger in pass protection.

At the moment, 6-3, 290-pound junior Terrence Campbell will start at left guard after starting for most of last year at right guard. The former defensive lineman moved over to the offensive side two years ago and turned into a nice blocker with good upside. Hardly a finished product, he still has plenty of rook to get better in all phases.

With Campbell moving sides, redshirt freshman T.J. Johnson will get a long look at right guard. Good-sized at 6-4 and 297 pounds, he's ready to go from a physical standpoint and is coming off a strong enough spring to hope for him to be a stalwart up front for the next four years. He's physical, but he'll have to prove he can hold his own against the quicker inside defenders.

Taking over for Justin Sorensen at right tackle will be junior Hutch Eckerson, a 6-6, 290-pound junior who was a key part of the rotation last year. He started five games two years ago and sat out 2007 to get bigger and to see more practice time. A good athlete who should be far better in pass protection than he showed, it's his job to lose now going into the fall.

Projected Top Reserves: Senior Lemuel Jeanpierre will find a spot somewhere. The 6-4, 294-pound veteran started the first three games of last year at left guard before suffering a knee injury, and he wasn't quite right the rest of the way. He started off his USC career as a defensive lineman, making 17 tackles three years ago, but he became a strong, powerful guard who appeared to be on the verge of being solid before getting hurt. He'll start out as a possibility at left guard but could end up starting on the right side.

Working behind Anderson at center will once again be Seaver Brown, a nice 6-5, 303-pound backup option. The junior has seen time at left guard. He was supposed to be a big part of the rotation last year after starting six times at guard two years ago, but he only saw two games of action last year. He'll be a far bigger part of the equation this season.

A special teamer last year, 6-3, 283-pound sophomore Quintin Richardson will now be part of the battle for the starting right tackle job. A great athlete, he moves well and could grow into a good option in pass protection, but he wasn't quite as good as Eckerson in spring ball. He's still in the mix for the starting job going into the fall.

Watch Out For ... a lot of shuffling. After last year's nightmare, there will be little tolerance for someone who's struggling. There are several options to play around with and they might all be tried out. 
Experience. This was a veteran group last year and it didn't matter. Now this is a really experienced line with depth, decent backups, and enough upside to hope for all the time spent on the field to translate into more production.
Pass protection. For the second year in a row, the line did next to nothing to keep the quarterbacks clean. It allowed 31 sacks two years ago and was even worse last season giving up 39. That doesn't factor in all the pressure the passers were under and all the turnovers forced because of a lack of time. The tackles have to be far, far better.
Outlook: The fatal flaw in the program since Spurrier took over has been the lack of production on the line. Injuries have been a problem, inconsistency has been an issue, and being bad at playing football has been the biggest problem. New offensive line coach Eric Wolford comes over from Illinois and has tried to whip this group into shape, but it could take half the season before the right combination is found. On the plus side, there's a lot of experience, decent size, and good athletes. Now there has to be some good blockers to emerge.
Rating: 6