SEC Preview: South Carolina

We all know the Ol' Ball Coach and his some of the more cocky statements he's made over the years at the University of Florida. But Spurrier was surprisingly reserved in his first two seasons as the coach of the Gamecocks, despite exceeding everyone's expectations. But this year it appears that sly grin is back, and he's suggesting that this team could make it to the SEC Championship Game.

This is a solid Gamecock team with a veteran backfield and a defensive front seven that will keep opposing running games in check. But there are some holes to fill and with a loaded East division and trips to Baton Rouge and Fayetteville, it will be an arduous road to the Georgia Dome.

Projected Depth Chart
(returning starters in bold):

QB Blake Mitchell Sr.
Stephen Garcia Fr.

RB Cory Boyd Sr.
Mike Davis Jr.

FB Lanard Stafford Sr.
Bryan Kingrey Jr.

WR Kenny McKinley Jr.
Moe Brown So.

WR Chris Culliver Fr.
Jared Cook So.

TE Andy Boyd Sr.
Nick Prochak Fr.

RT Justin Sorensen Jr.
Hutch Eckerson So.

RG Lemuel Jeanpierre So.
James Thompson Sr.

C William Brown Sr.
Jeremy Burgess Jr.

LG Garrett Anderson So.
Kevin Young Fr.

LT Jamon Meredith Jr.
Gurminder Thind Jr.


DE Eric Norwood So.
Travian Robertson Fr.

DT Nathan Pepper Jr.
Kendrick Ellis Fr.

DT Ladi Ajiboye Fr.
Marque Hall Jr.

DE Jordin Lindsey Sr.
Clifton Geathers Fr.

SLB Rodney Paulk So.
Cody Wells Sr.

MLB Jasper Brinkley Sr.
Vandaral Shackleford So.

WLB Casper Brinkley Sr.
Gerrod Sinclair So.

SS Emmanuel Cook So.
SS Chris Hampton Sr.

FS Brandon Isaac Sr.
Darian Stewart So.

LCB Captain Munnerlyn So.
Stoney Woodson Jr.

RCB Carlos Thomas Jr.
Chris Hall So.

Special Teams

K Ryan Succop Jr.
P Ryan Succop Jr.

KR Chris Culliver Fr.
PR Kenny McKinley Jr.

Offensive Breakdown:

Key Returners:
QB Blake Mitchell, RB Cory Boyd
Key Losses: WR Sidney Rice, ATH Syvelle Newton
Key Newcomers: 4* QB Stephen Garcia, 4* WR Chris Culliver

Blake Mitchell has had a hard time keeping the starting quarterback job. Between suspensions and inconsistent play, it never quite seemed enough. Now, versatile Syvelle Newton is gone but there are some talented young arms in freshmen Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley. He has shown some signs, and he always seems to put it together against the Gators. At running back, USC has a good duo in Cory Boyd and Mike Davis. Neither has breakaway speed, but they're strong and grind out tough yards. Star wideout Sidney Rice departed early for the NFL draft, leaving the ‘Cocks without a proven Go-to receiver and red zone threat. Helping fill the void is a heavily-recruited freshman in Chris Culliver. The offensive line returns its tackles but the interior was gutted.

Defensive Breakdown:

Key Returners:
MLB Jasper Brinkley, RCB Carlos Thomas
Key Losses: SLB Marvin Sapp, LCB Fred Bennett
Key Newcomers: 5* DE Cliff Matthews, 4* DE Travian Robertson

The defense was bolstered by the return of middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who will play his second season and final season for the Gamecocks after transferring from the Georgia Military College. He totaled five sacks and 107 tackles – more than double any other player on the defense. He's joined on the weakside by his twin brother, Casper, and on the strongside by Rodney Paulk. Sophomore Eric Norwood leads the line, coming off a team-high seven sacks last season.

The USC defensive backfield has been churning out NFL draft picks over the past few years, so replacing cornerback Fred Bennett shouldn't be too hard a task. Carlos Thomas and Captain Munnerlyn both have a good bit of playing experience. After seeing significant minutes as a freshman, Florida-native Emmanuel Cook wrested the starting strong safety job from senior Chris Hampton.

Special Teams Breakdown:

The Gamecocks have a special talent in Ryan Succop, who's received pre-season All-SEC recognition as both a kicker and punter.

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