The national consensus among analysts is that the South Carolina Gamecocks are a top 15 team and a favorite to repeat as Eastern Division Champions of the toughest college football conference in the country. Freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore has added the bulk necessary to take the week-in-and-week-out beating of being a RB in the SEC and is considered a Heisman Trophy candidate heading into his sophomore campaign. If Lattimore can manage to remain healthy and receive sufficient support from fellow RBs Kenny Miles and Eric Baker, the Gamecocks need only a QB that can hand it to him, protect the football and distribute it to Alshon Jeffery, one of America's best WRs. Incumbent QB Stephen Garcia's future remains uncertain, though it looks as if he'll return for his final season, but sophomore Connor Shaw is capable of performing the role of distributor to Carolina's horses and protector of the pigskin. The Gamecocks are in the fortunate scenario of having two incredible weapons in Lattimore and Jeffery, and aren't in dire need of outstanding QB play to win a lot of football games - it just needs to be efficient.
Defensively, South Carolina is looking to fill holes that plagued the secondary last year, hoping to benefit in the middle from full seasons from LBs Rodney Paulk and Shaq Wilson and anxiously awaiting incoming DE Jadeveon Clowney's first big play. Carolina's D is talented and athletic and should present a formidable threat to opposing offenses. CB Stephon Gilmore and new-to-the-position Spur DeVonte Holloman headline the defensive backfield, while DE Devin Taylor and DT Travian Robertson lead the defensive line. I'm anxious to see how much DT Kelcy Quarles and CB Victor Hampton will be able to contribute; both were highly regarded prospects in the class of 2010. Hampton redshirted last season, and Quarles spent a year at prep school.
What are your expectations for Carolina this fall?
How will the Gamecocks finish the 2011 football season?
National Champions (54 votes)
SEC Champions (190 votes)
SEC East Champions and at least 10 wins (170 votes)
Repeat of last year (36 votes)
9-4 (20 votes)
8-5 (18 votes)
Less than 8 wins (5 votes)
493 total votes