The Cocks will rock if: Stephen Garcia makes up his mind he wants to be a QB and not part of the police blotter. Connor Show would do just fine, but if you add Garcia in the mix with Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffrey, Carolina has a potent offensive attack. If USC can get some production out of all world recruit Jadeveon Clowney, look out. Clowney would be teamed with All-SEC DE Devin Taylor and they would be a nightmare for SEC offenses.
It will be chicken salad if: The offensive line continues to be a question mark. Also, the defense was ranked 10th in the SEC in passing, and that is never a good sign. Another worry has to be the special teams as Spencer Lanning is gone, and the job of both placekicker and punter is up in the air with no clear cut winner for either job after spring practice. How many times has the outcome of an SEC game come down to a kick?
Schedule: Looking good for Cocky and the boys early, and the schedule does not include Alabama or LSU. The tradition SEC opener has them going to Athens, and the winner of that game should win the East. It will get tough in mid-October as three straight road games has them in Starkville, Knoxville and Fayetteville (See a theme here with all these ville's?), and then Florida at home. The out of conference schedule is a laugher (East Carolina, Navy, The Citadel) until they get to the end of the year against Clemson. However, Dabo Swinney might not make it to November, and if that is the case, the Gamecocks should face a team in disarray.
Intangibles: Did you see the truck that hit Carolina in the Chick-Fila-A-Bowl? Neither did Marcus Lattimore as he was blasted early in the game and never returned. Despite winning the East, which was their first division championship ever, they were dominated in back to back games in the Georgia Dome to close out the season. With most of their championship winning ballclub back, they should be anxious to erase the memory of the way last year ended.
Coach Scooter's Prediction: 1st in the SEC East
In a mediocre SEC East, who better to take the top spot than the team that won it last year. They are set at the skilled positions on offense, and with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney, they will be rough to handle up front. Carolina will benefit from a schedule that should have them favored in most of their games, and see their toughest obstacle to the East title, Georgia, early. On the sidelines, they have a coach that has been in the big games before, and knows how to win. If USC can solve their question marks on the offensive line, defensive secondary, and find a kicker, they will be tough to beat. Oh, and I forgot one other thing: keep Stephen Garcia out of jail. If they can do all those things, this is the year USC makes it back to Atlanta, and possibly beyond, if the talent on this team lives up to expectations.
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