"We made some progress last year," said Coach Steve Spurrier, citing beating a team ranked number one (Alabama) early in the season and winning the division. "We've accomplished a few firsts, but there's plenty more out there for us to go after."
He said the down years for Tennessee, Georgia and Florida played a part in the Gamecocks' 2010 success as well as the addition and play of running back Marcus Lattimore, who earned first-team All-SEC honors after running for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns as a true freshman.
However, Spurrier was quick to caution against placing too much emphasis on last season's success.
"You know, we lost our last two games last year, so we're not sitting around patting each other on the back too much," he said. "We got clobbered in the SEC game by Auburn and didn't play when the game was on the line. Against FSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, we fought back, got back in the game, but when it was on the line didn't do much. We've got a long way to go."
Spurrier said he would like to see improvement on both sides of the ball. "We were not a great team, by any means," Spurrier said. "We;re sort of middle of the pack in offense and defense.
"We got a lot of improving to do if we're going to have the big year that South Carolina hopes and believes someday we can," he added. "Certainly, we're shooting for it. But, again, a lot will be determined on how we play, how we coach."
Spurrier said signing the top players in the state of South Carolina is one reason there is hope that the Gamecocks can continue being successful.
"We've been able to sign the Mr. Football in the state, considered the top player in the state the last three years, Jadeveon Clowney, who as we know is not only the top player in our state, but considered the top player in the country last year," said the head coach. "We're really interested in watching him play this year. He will be out there early and often, and we think he is going to be a super player and a real good guy for us."
The uncertain status of senior quarterback Stephen Garcia, who was suspended for the fifth time in his career during the offseason, is a big question for South Carolina fans heading into the season.
"He has some guidelines he must follow to be reinstated in August," Spurrier said. "He's done everything we've asked. He's certainly behaved very well, gone to all the workouts from what I understand. So right now he in all likelihood will be set to return."
Spurrier said it's not necessarily safe to assume that Garcia will be the starting quarterback because he's expecting Conner Shaw to push for the position during fall practice. "He (Garcia) may be our best quarterback, but we're going to have a little competition in preseason this year," he said. "Connor Shaw has been here a year there now. We feel whoever our quarterback is, he needs to go out and earn it in preseason practice."
Auburn, which defeated the Gamecocks twice last year, will travel to Columbia to play Spurrier's team on Oct. 1st.