Wow, that was a long offseason. After the comeback victory against Michigan to end the season in January and all the positive stories over the Spring and Summer, my anticipation level hasn't been this high since maybe 6:59AM JST, August 29, 2014. Deebo is back. Javon Kinlaw showed up to pre-season camp looking like he does in the image below. Kurt Roper is living somewhere in Colorado. It's time for some Gamecock football!
Expectations among South Carolina fans for this year's team are fairly high. Vegas isn't buying the hype, however, and has set the over/under for season win totals at 7. Bill Connelly isn't buying the hype either, and for that matter neither is Pat Forde. I'm on the record as being optimistic about the amount of improvement the Offense can achieve this season, and am projecting a statistically unique performance. As for the Defense, I think T-Rob and Muschamp will have this unit performing well enough to give us a chance to win most games. Muschamp has upgraded talent on both sides of the ball to the point where I believe our starting 22 can stand toe-to-toe with nearly everyone in college football. We still are perilously thin at multiple positions, however, and will need to depend on newcomers extensively in the two-deep.
Game by Game Predictions
Here's how I see the season playing out:
- Coastal Carolina - W
- Georgia - L
- Marshall - W
- @ Vanderbilt - W
- @ Kentucky - W
- Missouri - W
- @ Texas A&M - L
- Tennessee- W
- @ Ole Miss- W
- @ Florida - W
- Chattanooga - W
- @ Clemson - L
So, I've got us at 9-3 (6-2 SEC). As far as schedules go, it doesn't get much better for an SEC team than this. I would prefer to swap out Ole Miss for Arkansas of course, but drawing them is better than pulling Alabama, Auburn, LSU, or Mississippi State. I wanted to project 10 wins for the this team, but I just can't trust them to not have at least one stupid loss (i.e. any loss to Kentucky ever). I am really optimistic that the Gamecocks can get a win against the Bulldogs in Week 2, and I migh end up projecting it that way next week, but basic logic tells me this isn't really likely. Until SC actually gets a win against A&M, I'm going to project that game as a loss. Tennessee might actually be worse than they were last year, and while I think Dan Mullen with have Florida back to elite status sooner rather than later, they won't have the quarterback play or the defense this year to beat the Gamecocks. The big trap game in the schedule is Marshall. They have a very good defense, and win or lose, there could be some emotional exhaustion following the big Georgia game.
All, some, or none of this will happen:
- The passing game will be much more explosive. One of the nation's best and deepest WR corps will generate two 1,000 receivers (Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards) and Jake Bentley will be selected as an All-SEC quarterback.
- Deebo Samuel will score at least 20 TDs, in at least 3 different ways.
- The player missed most on Defense will be Dante Sawyer. As a reserve player last year, he tied for first in the nation with an absurd 5 forced fumbles. For every tackle he made in 2017, he forced 0.263 fumbles. Insane. As a result of his absence the Defense will force fewer turnovers than they did in 2017.
- South Carolina will have two players rush for over 800 yards (Rico Dowdle and Ty'Son Williams).
- The Gamecocks will finish 2nd in the SEC East.
- South Carolina's Offense will be a Top 40 Offense in the FBS, and will average about 32 PPG.
- Offensive MVP: Deebo Samuel
- Offensive Breakout Player: Shi Smith
- Best Offensive Newcomer: Josh Vann
- Most Improved Offensive Player: Ty'Son Williams
- Defensive MVP: Javon Kinlaw
- Defensive Breakout Player: Javon Kinlaw
- Best Defensive Newcomer: Jaycee Horn
- Most Improved Defensive Player: Jamyest Williams
- Stephen Garcia Team Leadership Award: T.J. Brunson
Should be a great season. Go Cocks.