2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Predictions and SEC Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 6/29/2011
It may have taken longer than most people expected, but Steve Spurrier has brought this South Carolina team back to national prominence. The Gamecocks made it to the SEC Championship Game last season, where they were blasted by Auburn. Though the Gamecocks did take a step forward and win nine games last year, the finish of the season was less than impressive. After being throttled by Auburn, they were beaten 26-17 by Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The talent is there for this team to be even better in 2011. Expectations surrounding the program have certainly gone up, and Spurrier realizes this year could be a great chance for South Carolina to win the tough SEC East. Florida isn’t the powerhouse they normally are, and there are plenty of questions surrounding Georgia as well. Can the Gamecocks improve on last year’s record?
Steve Spurrier is one of the biggest names in the business, and for good reason. Spurrier won a Heisman Trophy while playing in 1966, and he has been extremely successful as a college football coach. He won six SEC Championships and a National Championship at Florida. Spurrier was named the SEC Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches in 2010.
Spurrier is known as one of the most innovative coaches in the nation. He constantly comes up with new formations, and the South Carolina playbook is certainly one of the most complicated in the SEC. Spurrier prides himself on staying one step ahead of the competition at all times.
South Carolina’s offense has a couple of the biggest stars in the SEC. Marcus Lattimore burst onto the scene by rushing for 1,197 yards in his freshman season last year. He should be the guy that carries this team in most of its games this year. Don’t overlook the fact that Lattimore can be a real threat to catch the ball out of the backfield as well. He caught 29 passes for a total of 412 yards last season. Alshon Jeffrey is an imposing wide receiver that will create a mismatch against just about every defensive back he faces. Jeffery caught 88 passes in 2010, and I fully expect him to improve on that number.
What about the all important quarterback position? It seems that he has been there forever, but Stephen Garcia is still the starting quarterback for the Gamecocks. Garcia continues to have off the field problems, and he is definitely on a short leash at this point. Garcia is a talented dual-threat quarterback, but the team is just 17-13 in games he has started in his career. He needs to continue to develop his leadership skills for this offense to reach its full potential.
The South Carolina front seven was terrific last year, but the secondary really let them down. Expect Jadeveon Clowney, the No. 1-rated prospect in the country, to make a mark immediately from the defensive end position. Travian Robertson is a great run stuffer at the defensive tackle position, and the depth at the defensive end spot should help South Carolina pressure the quarterback effectively.
Stephon Gilmore is one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC, and he actually led the team in tackles last year. The weak spot for this team has been at the safety position, where they have had poor production over the last couple years. Jimmy Legree and D.J. Swearinger are expected to start in the two safety positions, but they must do a better job of keeping everything in front of them.
2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Futures Odds
Bodog lists the Gamecocks as 28/1 to win the BCS Championship this year. JustBet has listed the South Carolina Gamecocks at +200 to win the SEC East. JustBet also lists Marcus Lattimore at +500 to win the Heisman Trophy.
2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Schedule
A schedule in a conference as tough as the SEC will never be too easy, but the Gamecocks have about as easy of a schedule as you could possibly get in the SEC this year. They don’t play LSU or Alabama, which is obviously a huge plus. They also get Florida and Auburn both at home. Don’t overlook back-to-back games at Tennessee and Arkansas in late October and early November.
2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Predictions
I think this is the year that South Carolina makes a huge jump. Last year’s SEC title appearance was nice, but it wouldn’t shock me to see the Gamecocks in the National Championship picture for a while. The key for South Carolina will be avoiding that midseason letdown that has plagued them the last few years. At +200, I believe the Gamecocks are a good value play to win the SEC East. I think a plethora of young talent on this team will propel them to an 11-2 record in 2011.
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