Returning Starters: 12, 5 Off, 7 Def
Letterman Returning: 50 (24 Off, 25 Def, 1 ST)
Letterman Lost: 28 (14 Off, 11 Def, 3 ST)
6-6 ATS; 4-3 Home Fav; 0-0 Home Dog; 0-3 Away Fav; 1-0 Away Dog; 4-4 Off SU Win; 1-2 Off SU Loss
Last 7 Years ATS:
36-39-2 ATS; 13-18-1 Home Fav; 7-4 Home Dog; 4-10-1 Away Fav; 11-7 Away Dog; 22-22 Off SU Win; 11-14-2 Off SU Loss
Another football season and another hot seat for Tommy Bowden. After a 7-1 start, the Tigers fizzled to an 8-5 season despite having two nearly unstoppable tailbacks in James Davis and CJ Spiller. The Tigers are hoping they can finally get back to an ACC Championship, but that will be tough with uncertainty at QB and a young offensive line. True Freshman Wily Korn is battling Cullen Harper for the starting QB, but neither will probably provide the balance the Tigers needs on offense at least early on. Defensively, the Tigers will be in experienced on the D-line, but return nearly the rest of the defense in tact.
Keys to Success:
Take their lumps with Korn-
I think if Korn is their guy,then he needs to go ahead and play early. He is talented enough that with experience by the end of the year, he can be a weapon. See Matt Stafford at Georgia.
Establish the run-
You may be thinking how hard is that with Davis and Spiller, but the Tigers need to stick with the bread and butter even with teams stacking the box against them. These guys are too talented to not utilize somehow in the offense.
Avoid Early Season Bump-
The Tigers have failed to get out of the gate undefeated through September due to a triple over time game or allowing a big lead to slip away. This year, those games are at NC State and at Georgia Tech.
The gut check is done in game one as FSU comes to Death Valley for the Atlantic Division title possibly. Four weeks later, the Tigers travel to Atlanta where they have had some tough losses as of late. The following Va Tech struts into Death Valley having beaten the Tigers by double digits each of the last four meetings. BC is the Tigers home finale where the Tigers are out for revenge after two straight OT losses. South Carolina finishes the season in what should be a very good game. The Tigers had a four game winning streak broken last year.
Best Case: 10-2
Worst Case: 6-6
Returning Starters: 17, 7 Off, 10 Def
Letterman Returning: 54 (23 Off, 30 Def, 1 ST)
Letterman Lost: 12 (7 Off, 3 Def, 2 ST)
8-3 ATS; 2-0 Home Fav; 1-3 Home Dog; 3-0 Away Fav; 2-0 Away Dog; 4-2 Off SU Win; 3-1 Off SU Loss
Last 7 Years ATS:
39-38-1 ATS; 13-13-1 Home Fav; 7-11 Home Dog; 7-4 Away Fav; 12-10 Away Dog; 24-19 Off SU Win; 12-16 Off SU Loss
Steve Spurrier believes this is the year the Gamecocks can challenge for an SEC East title. Losing just 12 letterman and returning 54, 17 of which are starters, South Carolina has a lot of experience coming back from a team which played Fla, Tenn, and Auburn all within 7 points last year. Offensively, the biggest issue will be at QB where an inconsistent Blake Mitchell returns. Spurrier needs his senior QB to be successful this year if the Gamecocks are going to take that leap. The Defense returns 10 starters led by the Brinkley brothers and LB (Casper and Jasper).
Keys to Success:
Keeping Players out of trouble-
This is really turning into an issue in Columbia as both Mitchell and highly touted Stephen Garcia had off the field incidents in the off season.
Keep that running game going-
Cory Boyd quietly had a very solid year last year while all the attention was on Mitchell and Sidney Rice. He and Mike Davis need to keep up the misconception that Spurrier only wins with pass. The duo combined for over 1200 yards last season.
Get a Big Win-
South Carolina has been playing Georgia and Florida very tough for the last five years, but they really need to beat both of these teams if they want to be in Atlanta come December.
The Gamecocks did not get an easy draw from the West with trips to LSU and Arkansas this season. Game 2 at Georgia will eliminate one teams East title hopes before they really got started. South Carolina has a very interesting out of conference game at North Carolina, which could be a trap game if Butch Davis has his club in order by then. Eleven straight games before a bye week prior to Clemson.
Best Case: 9-3