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7 South Carolina

Aug. 20, 2012
Aug. 20, 2012

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Aug. 20, 2012

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7 South Carolina

The Gun is gone from the offense, but the physical Gamecocks will have plenty of Fun

This is an article from the Aug. 20, 2012 issue

The Skinny

STEVE SPURRIER'S Fun 'n' Gun is gone, replaced by a zone-read, ball-control scheme. It might sound a little dire, certainly a little strange, but combined with an athletic defense, it's an offense that can win big in today's ground-and-pound SEC. Tailback Marcus Lattimore returns from a torn ACL, and quarterback Connor Shaw—who started the final eight games after erratic gunslinger Stephen Garcia was kicked off the team for a rules violation—should be even better this fall. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who will run the D now that Ellis Johnson has departed to be head coach at Southern Miss, has a toy box of a line that includes twin towers Jadeveon Clowney (6'6") and Devin Taylor (6'8") at end.

Key Recruit

SHAQ ROLAND The wide receiver is the fourth consecutive South Carolina Mr. Football to sign with Spurrier. If he produces as quickly as the previous three—CB Stephon Gilmore, Lattimore and Clowney—he'll become one of Shaw's favorite targets.

Breakout Player

JADEVEON CLOWNEY The nation's top-ranked recruit in 2011, Clowney had eight sacks and five forced fumbles as a freshman. The scary part? He played limited snaps because he didn't know South Carolina's defensive playbook. Now he does, much to the chagrin of SEC quarterbacks.

Final Analysis

LATTIMORE AND SHAW will give the Gamecocks one of the nation's best rushing offenses, and five starters are back from a ferocious defense. South Carolina has a tougher schedule—including games against West powers LSU and Arkansas—than fellow SEC East favorite Georgia. But the Gamecocks have home field advantage for their game against the Bulldogs on Oct. 6, with the winner likely to play for bigger things. The Gamecocks won an SEC East title in 2010 and won 11 games in '11. The Head Ball Coach has always been more about SEC championships than national titles; this year he has a team worthy of being in both discussions.

THE VITALS

Coach Steve Spurrier (8th year)

55--35 (29--27 in SEC)

2011 Record 11--2 (6--2, 2nd in SEC East)

Final AP Rank 9

Returning Starters Offense 7, Defense 5

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 373.5 YPG (74)

Rushing Offense 192.1 YPG (25)

Passing Offense 181.5 YPG (95)

Total Defense 267.7 YPG (3)

Rushing Defense 136.0 YPG (45)

Passing Defense 131.7 YPG (2)

TELLING NUMBER 19

Points by which the Gamecocks were outscored in the first quarter last year (72--53); South Carolina dominated the final three quarters 338--167.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

RB Marcus Lattimore

Jr. 6'0", 218 pounds

818 YDs, 10 Tds

QB Connor Shaw

Jr. 6'1", 207 pounds

1,448 YDs, 14 TDs

WR Ace Sanders

Jr. 5'8", 175 pounds

29 recs, 383 YDs

Defense

DE Devin Taylor

Sr. 6'8", 267 pounds

42 tackles, 6 sacks

DT Kelcy Quarles

Soph. 6'4", 286 pounds

28 tackles

FS D.J. Swearinger

Sr. 6'0", 210 pounds

80 tackles, 3 INTs

Special Teams

KR Bruce Ellington

Soph. 5'9", 197 pounds

23.1 avg, 45 longest

TWO PHOTOSGARY BOGDONInjured a year ago, Lattimore is back to lay the hurt on the SEC in Spurrier's new no-finesse attack.