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2012 College Football Previews: South Carolina

Head Coach: Steve Spurrier

South Carolina Gamecocks Gambling Odds from JustBet to Win BCS Championship: +3,500

South Carolina Gamecocks Gambling Odds from JustBet to win SEC Conference: +575

Steve Spurrier has successfully changed the culture at South Carolina. This once-lowly program is now on the national map. South Carolina’s 11-2 season in 2011 was the best ever for the program. The 11-2 record was accomplished despite losing star runner Marcus Lattimore for half the season. Spurrier and this team still believe they can do even more in 2012.

Offense

Connor Shaw no longer has to deal with Stephen Garcia as competition for the starting quarterback spot. Shaw shouldn’t have to watch for the quick hook this year, as there really isn’t anyone ready right behind him. Shaw is a great runner who is developing as a passer. South Carolina is 8-1 in his 9 starts during his career.

Marcus Lattimore may well be the nation’s best running back. He suffered a knee injury mid-season last year, but he is expected to be 100 percent this season. Lattimore can do everything out of the backfield, and the Gamecocks would do well to give him the ball early and often. There aren’t many defenses that will be able to stop this South Carolina rushing attack.

The two question marks surrounding the offense are the offensive line and wide receivers. On the offensive front, South Carolina must replace three starters. T.J. Johnson is a star at the center spot, and I still expect this line to be very good. At wide receiver, the Gamecocks will miss Alshon Jeffrey. Ace Sanders will have to step up and make big plays.

Defense

As good as the offense is, it really is the South Carolina defense that should be the strength of the team in 2012. Jadeveon Clowney was awesome in his freshman season, and I fully expect a massive season from him on the defensive line. He may be the best defensive end in the nation. Devin Taylor is fifth all-time in South Carolina history with 15 sacks. You won’t find a better combination at the defensive end spot! In the middle, South Carolina has sophomore Kelcy Quarles who will clog the running lanes very well. This defensive front is absolutely stacked.

Shaq Wilson, Reggie Bowens, and Devonte Holloman give the Gamecocks three great seniors at the linebacker spots. Don’t expect this unit to miss many tackles. The secondary lost Stephon Gilmore, but there is plenty of depth in this area. Akeem Auguste is an experienced cover corner to lead this group. Victor Hampton has all the ability in the world, but he must take fewer chances. D.J. Swearinger is a guy the coaches rave about because of his leadership abilities on the field.

2012 South Carolina Football Predictions: 11-2

South Carolina’s schedule is a difficult one, as you would expect in the SEC. Still, I don’t expect this team to drop off this year. The Gamecocks are absolutely loaded on the defensive end, and they have the best runner in the nation in Lattimore. It wouldn’t shock me to see this team contending for a national title if Connor Shaw plays well at quarterback. The team will play Georgia, LSU, Florida, and Tennesee all in the month of October. That will be the make or break month for South Carolina. Look for big things from this South Carolina team in 2012.

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