South Carolina Gamecocks
2010 record: 9-5 overall, 5-3 conference
2010 Bowl Game: 26-17 loss to Florida State in Chick-fil-A Bowl
2010 ATS: 7-7
2010 O/U: 9-5
Returning starters: 14 total (7 on offense, 7 on defense)
Over the month of August, our team of writers will be previewing the top teams heading into an exciting 2011 campaign. The college football handicappers at Maddux Sports are also preparing and have season-long packages readily available for clients.
Let’s take a look at an SEC school that may make some noise in the BCS standings under head coach Steve Spurrier during the 2011 season.
Spurrier definitely brings back a ton of experience from a unit that helped the school win the SEC East Division title for the first time in school history. The Gamecocks return 81 percent of their rushing yards and 100 percent of their passing yards.
The jury is still out on fifth-year senior Stephen Garcia heading into the 2011 season, as he’s coming off his fifth suspension during the offseason. He finished with 3,509 passing yards and 20 touchdowns last year.
Garcia has posted a 17-13 record as a starter while in Columbia and is one of just three signal-callers in school history to throw for over 6,000 career yards.
One of the nation’s best running backs will be inside the Gamecocks’ huddle, as sophomore Marcus Lattimore was the unanimous National Freshman of the Year, rushing for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has bulked up to 231 pounds during the offseason to handle the rigors of SEC action.
The Gamecocks also possess one of the most talented receivers in all of college football in junior Alshon Jeffery, who was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. He rewrote the school’s record books with 88 receptions and 1,517 receiving yards in 2010.
Three starters return on the offensive line and the unit is thrilled to have a coach return for a second straight year for the first time since 2008.
The unit definitely took a step back during the 2010 campaign, ranking 43rd nationally in scoring defense, allowing 23.2 points per game. South Carolina had trouble defending the pass at times, finishing 10th in the SEC by giving up 241.9 yards a game through the air.
The defensive line has plenty of talent and is coming off a school-record 41 sacks, which ranked seventh nationally. Buzz around campus is that the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Jadeveon Clowney is expected to be on the field in passing situations early on.
Most of camp will be spent on developing the linebacking and secondary groups, as the team lost quite a bit of experience to graduation and the NFL.
Senior Jay Wooten came out on top in spring ball and will take over the placekicking duties vacated by Spencer Lanning. He is 4-of-6 in his career, with all attempts coming during the 2008 season while at North Carolina.
The punting responsibilities will likely be placed on either redshirt freshman Patrick Fish or senior Joey Scribner-Howard, as both basically finished the spring in a dead heat.
The return game is definitely up in the air and will be decided on the practice field over the next three weeks.
Against the Spread
South Carolina hasn’t really made backers a ton of cash, but has been very consistent under Spurrier over the last three years. The Gamecocks have compiled a 20-17 ATS mark over that span.
The visiting team in the South Carolina-Tennessee series is 12-2 ATS, which is a good thing for the squad heading to Knoxville on Oct. 29.
Facing Navy in-between SEC contests is a dangerous proposition and will likely lead to an 0-4 ATS record in the series. Watch the college football lines page closely for this particular contest.