Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

FBS preseason Top 10 countdown: No. 7


In this week’s rendition of my FBS preseason Top 10 countdown, we move on to the No. 7 team in the country. This is the second representative the SEC has in my rankings so far:

7. South Carolina Gamecocks

2011 Record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC)

Bowl Game: Defeated Nebraska 30-13 in Capital One Bowl

Overview: After finally having a breakthrough season in 2010 that culminated with a Southeastern Conference Championship appearance, South Carolina was once again expecting big things in 2011. At first glance, you would see the Gamecocks’ 11-2 record and think they had another successful season, but when you look closer you see that they failed to reach the SEC Championship game. Though they swept their division, losses to Auburn and Arkansas of the SEC’s Western division kept the Gamecocks out of the championship game. This season, coach Steve Spurrier will be aiming to get his squad back to the promised land. The hopes of South Carolina will likely hinge on the health of star running back Marcus Lattimore and the play of quarterback Connor Shaw. If those two can produce, South Carolina will once again be one of the favorites to come out of the SEC East.

Offensive Player to Watch: Runningback – Marcus Lattimore – Junior.

During his freshman year, Marcus Lattimore showed he was as good as advertised, as he ran for just under 1,200 yards and scored 17 touchdowns en route to multiple “Freshman of the Year” awards. That production was expected to carry over into his sophomore year and Lattimore was even receiving some Heisman buzz. Lattimore was living up to the hype as he piled up 818 yards and 10 touchdowns in Carolina’s first seven games of 2011, but he suffered a devastating ACL tear in a game against Mississippi State. The injury sidelined the star for the remainder of the 2011 season and put his status for 2012 into question. The Gamecocks will need Lattimore to bounce back strong if they hope to reach their championship dreams.

Defensive Player to Watch: Defensive End – Jadeveon Clowney – Sophomore.

Just as is the case with Marcus Lattimore and the offense, Jadeveon Clowney is the most important defensive piece for a South Carolina team that lost defensive stars such as Melvin Ingram and Stephon Gilmore. In his freshman campaign, Clowney turned in some impressive numbers including 36 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks on his way to SEC Freshman of the Year honors. The 6’6” 256-lb sophomore-to-be will need to improve on those already-notable stats if he is going to lead the South Carolina defense to another good defensive season.

Key Games: October 6 vs. Georgia, October 13 @ LSU, November 10 vs. Arkansas

2012 Prediction: 10-2 (6-2 SEC)

Wins: Vanderbilt, East Carolina, UAB, Missouri, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford, Clemson

Losses: Georgia, LSU


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