South Carolina Gamecocks Should Win SEC
By Eric Russell
Twenty two years have passed, and it's time for the South Carolina Gamecocks to finally break through. The university joined the SEC in 1990, and it started playing football in the conference in 1992. The only accolades they have to show are three consecutive seasons with 11 victories and an appearance in the 2010 conference championship game.
However, In the first of my bold predictions for the 2014 season I'm choosing to believe in the Gamecocks. Not only will Steve Spurrier get a chance to brag about another 11-win season, which he likes to do so much, he'll also have another SEC title to add to the six he won at Florida, because the Gamecocks will win their first SEC Championship if...
1) Dylan Is The Real Deal
Sure the Gamecocks lost arguably the best quarterback in the school's history, but let's not forget there was a contingent of South Carolina fans who would've told you Dylan Thompson should've been the starting quarterback last season at the beginning of the year. However, misguided those feelings may have been, the point still stands that Thompson can get the job done. The 6-foot-3 redshirt senior has filled in admirably over the course of two seasons. He has 1827 passing yards 14 touchdowns and five interceptions in his career as a backup for South Carolina.
The beauty of it for the Gamecocks is they don't necessarily need Thompson to duplicate Shaw's numbers. That would be great, but 24 touchdowns to just one interception probably isn't going to happen.
If you go down the list of quarterbacks in the SEC this season, you'd be hard pressed to find a QB you could have more confidence in than Thompson. The Key word there is confidence. It's not a proclamation of him as the most talented quarterback in the conference, but outside of Maty Mauk and Nick Marshall , none of the other quarterbacks have shown anything outstanding either. Not to mention, Thompson will have help on offense. Shaq Roland is due to emerge as one of the premier receivers in the conference, and South Carolina may have one of the top rushers in the nation.
2) George Rogers And Others Prove To Be Prophetic
South Carolina legend and 1980 Heisman winner George Rogers had high praise for Mike Davis recently. He told gogamecocks.com the rising junior has a chance to be a Heisman candidate, which many others are saying as well.
Davis will be returning after a season in which he rushed for 1183 yard and 11 touchdowns. Not only will the Gamecocks get the gifted rusher back, his offensive line is solid and filled with experience. If he can turn out a Heisman-worthy performance this season, South Carolina should find itself taking on whoever emerges from the dogfight out west.
3) The West's Run Is Over
The SEC champion has come from the West Division the last five seasons, but this season isn't shaping up to be like previous years in which the team from out west is head and shoulders above its counterpart. College football fans can only hope its Alabama who prevails to take on South Carolina because things are already getting interesting in late June thanks to you know who.
The Ol' Ball Coach
Another bright spot for South Carolina is Spurrier. He has the pedigree to lead the team to a title obviously. He's already taken the program to new heights. In addition, he seems to be feeling confident about this year's squad. Whether you're a South Carolina Gamecocks fan or not, you've got to love — or at least admire the trolling ways of — The Ol' Ball Coach. He's the master of the subtle jab. The latest came in the form of a unique quote from an article in The State newspaper.
Spurrier pointed out Nick Saban has only two SEC Championships in eight seasons with the Crimson Tide. He went on to suggest Saban's results haven't matched the talent he's had at his disposal. If you ask me, the remarks come at the perfect time. Spurrier knows the upcoming season may be the perfect opportunity for the Gamecocks to sneak away with an SEC crown.
However, the obvious does need to be stated about Spurrier's comments, they're a bit outlandish when you consider the fact Saban also has a pair of SEC titles at LSU and Saban wins when it comes to the National Championships between the two coaches. Nonetheless, Spurrier loves taking shots so this one isn't real surprising. After the big talk, lets hope the Ol' Ball Coach can back it up with a SEC ring of his own this year.
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