Sep 3

An In-Depth Look at South Carolina

Posted By:Damian Thorpe - Aiken, SC  Tags:

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Sorry it took so long to get back on here, been real busy with work and school. This is an in-depth look at the University of South Carolina. There are a lot of things to talk about when it comes to South Carolina. It's always hard for me to tell what kind of team South Carolina has due to Steve's sarcasm, but hopefully I can give you a better idea of what you will see this year.

Head Coach- Does he need an introduction? I don't mean to portray him like he is god or anything, but he is one of the most recognizable coaches in all of football. While I have mixed emotions about Spurrier, I can never take anything away from anyone who led Duke to the promise land. However, sometimes I feel like he cares more about what he hits on the golf course on the weekends then he does about football. His sarcasm can someimes get annoying but he is what he is. I just hope he is giving coaching his best effort. With that, lets continue.

An in-depth look at each position:

Quarterbacks- We all know who the starting quarterback is. Stephen Garcia had some high points last year (Kentuck game, LSU game) and some low points (Florida game, Clemson game, Outback bowl). But im with Spurrier on this one, I do not think he was ready to play. Stephen has all the tools to be a successful quarterback, he just needs to put in the time and dedication. He could easily be a top quarterback in not only the SEC, but the nation. They say he has put in extra work over the summer, but we will see.<----(There's a little Spurrier sarcasm for you) At back-up is redshirt freshman, Reid McCollum. Reid played high school ball at Summerville. He was the quarterback for Georgia's A.J. Green. If you look at his highlight tapes on youtube, you can see he has some potential. I've only seen him play in this years spring game. I like that he plays the game with a lot of passion. You could see that if you were at the spring game. I also noticed that he seemed to be communicating with the players good. That is a key factor in being successful at the quarterback position. After Reid, is Aramis Hillary. I have never really been a big fan of Aramis Hillary. Spurrier has been high on the kid from day one, but we'll see. Let's just hope Garcia stays healthy because I believe he gives us the best chance to win football games. Overall Grade: B-

Runningbacks- Carolina has a great mix of runningbacks this year. I keep hearing that Carolina has too many runningbacks and wide receivers. Let me tell you, Carolina can never have too much of anything. We need as many runningbacks and wide receivers as we can get. The depth chart for tomorrows game has Brian Maddox starting, however Jarvis Giles, Kenny Miles, and Eric Baker will all probably see some time. Bryce Sherman could possibly see some action as well. Jarvis Giles reminds me a lot of Knowshown Moreno in the sense of his agility. He is a little faster than Moreno, but is about the same in the agility and manuvering categories. Bryce Sherman is Carolina's version of Trindon Holliday from LSU. He should be a great addition to our offense. A 5'5 speed guy thats fast as lightning. Hopefully atleast one of these guys will work out for us. Overall Grade: A-

Wide receivers- Led by Senior Moe Brown, our receiving corps looks to be better than last year. The loss of Kenny Mckinley is going to hurt, however we do have some solid talent that has come in. 6'5 freshman Tori Gurley looks to come up big this year. He has really impressed the coaches during the spring and summer especially during the scrimmages. Steve said he has a great ability to jump up and go get the football especially for balls thrown in the corner of the end zone. We also have Jason Barnes who was moved to second string last week. I'm sure he wants to come out and prove something this year. Matt Clements and D.L. Moore will also see some action this year. Matt Clements has performed better according to Spurrier since he moved back to the offensive side of the ball two weeks ago. Walk-on Stephen Flint has gotten a lot of praise from Steve. The coaches have been impressed with his work ethic. Spurrier has been particularly impressed with his mechanics. There also has been a lot of praise for Freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery. If you remember, Jefferey was committed to play for Southern Cal. but changed his mind on signing day. (Thank God) Steve has said they must find a way to get him on the field this year. Dion Lecorn is out with a broken bone in his leg, but Steve said he should be back in a couple of weeks. The biggest problem with our wide receivers is their inexperience. Most of them have not had solid playing time on the field. Overall grade: B+++++ (Real close to being an A-, due to inexperience though B+++++)

Tight Ends- One Name. Weslye Saunders. I gaurantee by the end of the year, everyone will know who this kid is. I have liked him ever since he arrived as a freshman. He has not gotten much of a chance to play due to playing behind NFL tight end Jared Cook (Tennesee Titans), however this year he gets his chance. I promise this is not much of a fall from Cook. While Saunders is not as athletic as Cook, he fits the category of tight end better than cook. He is certainly a better blocker than Cook ever will be. I promise that Saunders will be one of the top tight ends in nation by the end of the year, IF HE STAYS HEALTHY. P.S. Print this paragraph and look at it at the end of the year if you don't believe me. Overall grade: A-

Offensive Line- Hopefully this is one of Carolina's strongest positions this year. They certainly can't be much worse than last year. Led by Garrett Anderson and Jarriel King, our offensive line looks to be one of the best in the SEC. Spurrier has stated our biggest problem thus far in the offseason has been snapping the football. We can not seem to find someone who can do it. Hopefully we can get it together tomorrow night against N.C. State. Sophomore Quinton Richardson will get his chance to start at right tackle. The offensive line is going to be the biggest factor in Garcia's success. We all know the line will have to block well for him in order to get the passing game going. They will also have to be better this year with opening up holes for the running game. Getting a running game established will certainly open up the passing game for Garcia. One-sided teams don't typically do well. (Example: Last year's Carolina team). Overall Grade: B-

Defensive Line- Why don't we move from the offensive line to the defensive line. Led by Cliff Matthews and Nathan Pepper, (IF they can stay healthy) the defensive line looks to be young and inexperienced. Defensive Line Coach Brad Lawing has said we are young, but we are ready. Hopefully this is the case, but we will see.<--- (Some more Spurrier sarcasm We will need the defensive line to come up big for us if we want to be successful defensively this year. We all know what a good offense can do to you if you can't put pressure on the quarterback. Overall Grade- C+

Linebackers- Eric Norwood and Rodney Paulk lead our group of linebackers. Norwood is the leader on defense and will probably be the captain of the team this year. Alonzo Winfield will start at "Spur" backer. "Spur" backer is something Ellis Johnson implemented last year. It's a mix between a safety and a linebacker. It seemed to work last year, so we will find out. Hopefully Norwood's presence will help out our linebackers and defensive line. I can't express in words how important it was that he came back. Overall Grade: B-

Secondary- This has been probably the most talented position on Carolina's team for the past seven or eight years next to maybe wide receivers. There always seems to be good talent from Carolina's secondary moving on to the NFL. (Ex: Dunta Robinson (Houston Texans) Sheldon Brown (Philadelphia Eagles) Fred Bennett (Houston Texans) Johnathan Joseph (Cincinnati Bengals) Ko Simpson (Buffalo Bills) Stoney Woodson (New York Giants) Captain Munnerlyn (Carolina Panthers). You get the picture... It's obvious that our departures will hurt us a little, however I think we have enough talent to make up for our losses. The biggest problem this year is inexperience. We basically have two freshman starting at cornerback. Stephen Gilmore who is the highly touted freshman along with Sophomore Akeem Auguste. Auguste did not get much action last year, so he is basically a freshman. While they are both talented enough to play, we have to be realistic. We can't expect them to work magic, teams like Florida and Georgia will have a little fun with us. However, Gilmore is one of the most talented freshman I've ever seen. It's obvious from what I saw at the spring game, that the guy can play football. He is tremendously athletic and will go down as one of the best DB's in the history of Carolina. He has great anticipation for the football which is essential for a successful DB. Gilmore will also see some action at quarterback, where he played some in high school. Darian Stewart, who turned down the NFL, will start at Strong Safety. He will give us some experience in the secondary. Chris Culliver will return at Free Safety. Chris is not as talented as Emanuel Cook, however he will not be a tremendous drop off either. Overall Grade: B-

Kickers- I really don't want to talk about this part of our team. I go to sleep every night and pray Spencer Lanning learns how to kick a football. He is inexperienced and looked terrible in the spring game. Overall Grade: D+

Biggest Improvement- Wide Receivers, simple. We should be a lot better than last year at this position.

Biggest Question Mark- Will Garcia live up to the hype? Only time will tell.

Biggest Excitement- 5'5 Bryce Sherman. The guy is quick as lighting and when he sees any sort of daylight, he is gone. He adds a new dimension to Carolina's team that we have never had.

Overall Team Grade- B

Schedule Prediction- This is where all the trash talking begins

Date Opponent

Sept. 3 at N.C. State- Well the time is finally here. I could not possibly wait any longer for the opener, and it just so happens my team is in the opener. South Carolina is currently riding high into Raleigh on a three-game losing streak. In fact they have finished each of the past three years on three-game losing streaks. They are also four point underdogs for the game tomorrow. It seems like everything is against Carolina and I like it that way. We all seen what happened last year when they stuck that #1 label next to Georgia. It's always hard to live up to the hype. Let's not forget NC State has Russell Wilson at quarterback and the kid can play football. Please do not let that 34-0 score last year fool you, I was at the game and it was the ugliest win I've seen in a long time. It will be a close game, and I think it takes a half before Carolina's offense gets going. Halftime score will probably be 13-7 in favor of NC State. However Carolina gets it going in the second half. Final Score: S. Carolina 24 (1-0) NC State 20

Sept. 12 at Georgia- This game should be real intriguing. Carolina may enter this game as the favorites. Georgia should be coming off a loss to Oklahoma State while Carolina should be coming off a win. What scares me the most about Georgia is they are playing a top ten team away, while we are playing NC State. Not saying NC State is a bad team, because they are favored to beat us, but I think Georgia will see a big talent difference between Oklahoma State and South Carolina. I also feel like everybody except for Georgia fans are blowing Georgia off, which is never a good thing. In the words of Lee Corso, (Whom I can't stand)Not so fast my friend. Georgia will be better than the experts think. A.J. Green will probably light our secondary up. However, I think Carolina has a better all around team. This will be a close one. Final Score: S. Carolina 24 (2-0) Georgia 21

Sept. 19 FLA ATLANTIC- I really like the timing of this game. It gives us a game to really get going offensively. Stephen Garica should really be getting familiar with the offense at this point and should be getting better acclumated with the receivers. We can not however, look at this as an easy win. Florida Atlantic has probably had this game circled on their schedules since last year. Carolina likes to play down to talent. I just think Carolina has too much. Final Score: S. Carolina 38 (3-0) Florida Atlantic 10

Sept. 24 OLE MISS- I'm not hoping on the Ole Miss bandwagon just yet. Let's not forget Carolina did beat Ole Miss in Oxford last year 31-24. In fact, Chris Smelley had a career high day with 22-31 completions for 327 yards and three touchdowns. I laugh everytime I hear those stats. Jevan Snead should have some fun with our secondary, but hopefully at this point we should be getting better. The thing I like about this game for Carolina is that Carolina gets up for big games. Especially Thursday night games at home in front of a national audience. Final Score: S. Carolina 17 (4-0) Ole Miss 14 (I can hear the boo's now)

Oct. 3 S.C. STATE- South Carolina State will come ready to play football. I can guarantee they have had this game circled on their schedules since last year because I know a few of their players. I went to the game two years ago, and if S.C. State had a quarterback, they would have beat us. Carolina will win this game because of too much talent and depth. Final Score: S. Carolina 45 (5-0) S.C. State 3

Oct. 10 KENTUCKY- Most years Carolina would start choking at this point. I don't see that happening just yet. Kentucky is a young squad and Garcia seemed to do fairly well with them last year in Kentucky. Mike Hartline and Tony Dixon will be the offensive leaders for the Wildcats and they will play us tough. I just don't see them beating us at home. Final Score: S. Carolina 27 (6-0) Kentucky 13

Oct. 17 at Alabama- This is a tricky game to pick. Alabama is a great defensive team and they are playing at home. That alone makes me give the edge to them. The only problem I have is that I know Carolina has a better offense then Alabama. Greg McElroy will be the starter at quarterback for the Crimson Tide. I haven't really seen him play much except for their spring game and it was not pretty. I think Alabama wins this one, but it's closer than the experts think. Final Score: S. Carolina 17 (6-1) Alabama 21

Oct. 24 VANDERBILT- Vanderbilt has our number and I'm well aware of it. You think Spurrier is about tired of ole' Bobby Johnson's squad? I do. Vanderbilt is a well coached team especially for them being so high on academics. You know people don't realize how hard it is to coach teams like Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Duke. They have to try and recruit talented players who have the grades. I have always praised Bobby Johnson for being such an excellent coach. I think Carolina is a better team this year than in year's past. I think Carolina prevails in this one. Final Score: S. Carolina 31 (7-1) Vanderbilt 24

Oct. 31 at Tennessee- I think Tennessee is a surprise team this year. No one is really counting them out, but no one is really high on them either. We all may hate Lane Kiffin, but the players love him, and having a good connection with the players is 90% of coaching. Kiffin has a great staff in Tennesse including his father Monte, who was possibly one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the NFL. (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) I think Carolina prevails in this one. BUT, Tennesee is one year away from being back at the top of the SEC... Believe me. Final Score: S. Carolina 34 (8-1) Tennesee 27

Carolina (8-1)... Who woulda thought? Like I said if you don't believe me or disagree with me, print the article and save it. Then go back at the end of the year and look at it.

Nov. 7 at Arkansas- I can smell upset in the air. Arkansas will be better than they were last year and will Carolina a run for their money. Bobby Petrino knows what he is doing. Carolina will win this one though, just because Arkansas is a two years away from being a bowl eligible team again. Final Score: S. Carolina 35 (9-1) Arkansas 21

Nov. 14 FLORIDA- Oh my.... The grandaddy of them all. Mark my words... This game will decide who represents the SEC East in the SEC Championship. Too bad I don't think Carolina is quite ready for Florida. I don't think Florida is as good as they were last year, but anytime you have Tim Tebow on your team, you have a chance. Carolina will play this game tough, like I stated earlier they get up for big games. I just don't think they are ready for Florida. Columbia, however will be rocking for atleast the week prior to the game. Final Score: S. Carolina 17 (9-2) Florida 28

Nov. 28 CLEMSON- South Carolina will be down in the dumps after the loss to Florida. Which is why I think Clemson stands a good chance of beating us. I keep reading that this kid Kyle Parker knows how to throw the football but I have yet to see him play. C.J. Spiller is going to perform well as long as he is healthy. Clemson is a little inexperienced at the wide receiver position. I say Clemson wins this one because I really think the loss to Florida will put Carolina in the dumps. I also don't think Carolina will be (10-2). Final Score: S. Carolina 20 (9-3) Clemson 21

Recap: Carolina will be a lot better than last year. In fact I think if Carolina wants to go to an SEC Championship under Spurrier it has to happen this year while teams like Georgia and Tennessee are not as superior as they normally are to us. My prediction for Carolina is they go (9-3) this year. That prediction is my honest opinion and does not reflect my personal feelings toward the school. The biggest factor for Carolina is will they be able to overcome their inexperience on both sides of the ball. If they are able to, this should be an interesting year in Columbia.

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