2015 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Preview

Team Info
South Carolina Gamecocks
Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
2014 record: 7-6 overall, 3-5 SEC East
2014 Postseason results: Beat Miami-(FL) 24-21 in the Independence Bowl
2015 returning starters: 4 offense, 6 defense

Betting Info
Odds to win 2016 College Football  Championship game: 140/1
Odds to win 2015 SEC Championship Game: 40/1
Odds to Win 2015 SEC East Division: 19/2
Regular season wins: over 6 -125 /under 6 -105
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South Carolina looks to improve on a 7-6 season last year.

South Carolina looks to improve on a 7-6 season last year.

Steve Spurrier has been at South Carolina for 10 years now and recently turned 70 years old. You might say the Ole Ball Coach is now the really Ole Ball Coach. There are some who say Spurrier is too old and needs to retire. People only said that after the Gamecocks finished 7-6 last season. As Spurrier himself said in a press conference, his age wasn’t an issue when South Carolina completed 3 straight 11-2 seasons before last year.

Last year, the Gamecocks had an up and down season. They upset Georgia, had narrow losses to Missouri and Auburn, and some head scratching losses to Texas A&M, Kentucky, and Tennessee. There was also a painful blowout loss to rival Clemson. South Carolina would end up with a winning record by beating Miami 24-21 in the Independence Bowl to finish 7-6.

The Gamecocks look to improve in 2015 but only 10 starters are back. South Carolina is picked by many to finish near the bottom of the SEC, something that hasn’t happened during the Spurrier era. South Carolina has gone to a bowl in 9 of the 10 seasons under Spurrier.

Offense

Spurrier serves as his own offensive coordinator. Last year, the Gamecocks averaged 443 yards per game on offense, including 282 passing and 161 rushing yards. South Carolina averaged 33 points per game last year. The Gamecocks were #42 or better in total offense, passing and scoring nationally. Only four starters are back though.

Quarterback Dylan Thompson is now with the San Francisco 49ers after setting the South Carolina single season record with 3,594 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and also rushing for 4 touchdowns. Sophomore Connor Mitch is the leading candidate to replace him. Mitch threw for over 12,000 yards in his high school career in North Carolina and threw 63 touchdown passes in his senior year alone. Junior walk-on Perry Orth and redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia will also get looks at quarterback.

Running back Mike Davis is also with the 49ers now after rushing for 982 yards and 9 touchdowns, and also making 32 catches for 368 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brandon Wilds and David Williams will split the carries at running back. Wilds had 106 carries for 570 yards and 4 touchdowns last year, along with 18 catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Williams had 45 carries for 256 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 7 catches.

Receiver Pharoh Cooper is back after making 69 catches for 1,136 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also rushed for 200 yards on 27 carries with 2 touchdowns, and even threw 2 touchdown passes. However, other than tight end Jerell Adams the rest of the receivers are untested. Adams had 21 catches for 279 yards and a touchdown. Freshmen Deebo Samuel and Shaq Davidson will get a lot of targets as will senior Carlton Heard.

Three starters are back on the offensive line, led by right tackle Brandon Shell who has 36 career starts. Center Alan Knott and right guard Will Sport are also back. The left side of the line must be replaced though including left tackle A.J. who had 51 career starts.

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Defense

South Carolina gave up 433 yards per game on defense last year including 212 rushing yards. The Gamecocks allowed 30 points a game. South Carolina was #91 or worse in all three categories nationally out of 128 teams. Spurrier brought in Jon Hoke as co-defensive coordinator with Lorenzo Ward. Hoke has been a defensive backs coach in the NFL for the past 13 seasons. Six starters are back on defense.

The Gamecocks will move to a base 4-3 defense in 2015 after alternating between a 4-2-5 and 3-4 last year. Strangely, the Gamecocks return two starters on the defensive line named Gerald Dixon. Gerald Dixon will start at defensive end and Gerald Dixon, Jr. will start at tackle. Ironically Dixon, Jr. is a senior and Dixon is a junior. South Carolina must improve on the pass rush as they were near the bottom nationally in sacks and tackles for loss. The Gamcocks recruited seven defensive linemen including JUCO transfer Marquavius Lewis who should start at end right away.

Skai Moore is officially the only starting linebacker that returns from last year. However several players moved to different positions. Larenz Bryant moves to linebacker after playing spur last season. Bryson Allen-Williams moves back to the strong side.

Three players in the secondary are back with starting experience, but like the linebackers players moved to different positions. Chris Lammons and T.J. Gurley should start at the corners. Jordan Diggs and Isaiah Johnson should be the starting safeties, but Chris Moody will also get some time at safety.

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Special Teams

Junior kicker Elliot Fry, a former walk-on, made 18 of 25 field goals last year. Sean Kelly will likely handle the punting duties. Cooper will return both kicks and punts this year after returning only punts last year.

Schedule

South Carolina opens the season against North Carolina in Charlotte. The Gamecocks host Kentucky and Central Florida, sandwiched around a trip to Georgia. In October, South Carolina has road games at Missouri and Texas A&M, along with home games against LSU and Vanderbilt. November brings a road game at Tennessee, and three straight home games against Florida, The Citadel and rival Clemson.

Outlook

The schedule is tough but every team in the SEC has a tough schedule. There are questions at quarterback and wide receiver, and in all three units on defense. I think South Carolina has another six or seven win season.

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Posted by on Jul 28 2015. Filed under College Football, Headlines. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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