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South Carolina Season Preview: Q & A with Leftover Hot Dog

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Over the course of the season, Garnet and Black Attack will frequently collaborate with other blogs from around the SEC to talk about the season. The most important of those is Leftover Hot Dog, an excellent Gamecocks blog that has been covering Carolina football since 2005. LOHD and GABA have been working together on various projects for a few years now, and LOHD's Flounder is often to be found in our comments sections. In addition to tuning into all our collaboratively produced material, I encourage you to check out their site, if you haven't already. There's a wealth of information and commentary over there.

The following are my responses to a series of questions Flounder sent me about the upcoming season. Flounder also answered some of my questions; you can find them here.

1. Who's more important to the Gamecocks' success: Marcus Lattimore or Alshon Jeffery? Why?
Marcus Lattimore is more important to the Gamecocks success in 2011.  His ability to grind up yards on the ground will open things up for the passing game. In saying that, 2011 will not be as easy as last season as more and more teams will be trying to stack the box to force USC to win through the air.  USC and Lattimore knows this and the offensive line is improved over last year and should be able to open running lanes for Lattimore.  By doing so, he will be the work-horse for Spurrier and help aid USC to a repeat in the East.
2. A lot of pundits think we may be in for another round of musical QBs this year, but I feel that Stephen Garcia will start every game. What do you think?
I agree that Stephen Garcia will start every game.  Say what you will about Garcia but the fact is that he presents the best chance for success for USC in 2011 from the QB standpoint.  He has experience, knows the offense, knows the audibles, has arm strength and has the trust of his team.
Will Connor Shaw play – yes and frequently in 2011.  Spurrier is known to be hard on his gunslingers and that will not change so don’t be surprised if Garcia throws an INT and here comes Shaw.  That is Spurrier.  Shaw also will get reps to close out games or simply to mix it up, but don’t confuse that for whom the leader under center is. That is Stephen Garcia.

Continue reading after the jump.
3. Which team has the best shot at springing an upset against Carolina? East Carolina or Navy?
Out of those two, I say Navy due to that pesky option attack.  ECU has no defense; as long as USC’s defense can hold the Pirates in check, then no worries for a purple upset.  The Midshipmen are a scrappy bunch and should not be overlooked.  We all know what kind of performances USC has been known to give us versus the option (see Wofford).  I don’t think either will happen between these two teams, but I am worried about the MSU Bulldogs on the road.  That one is where the true challenge lies in avoiding an upset.
4. Name one player no one is talking about who you think will have a big impact on the season. Why?
I am a big fan of Antonio Allen.  He is battling DeVonte Holloman at Spur and it seems most are not talking about Allen but rather Holloman.  Both will see plenty of action in 2011 and both will need each other.  Johnson has the luxury of potentially playing both at the same time which to me screams shut down defense.
Allen last season finished second on the team with 70 tackles and logged 10.5 tackles for loss to go with 2.5 sacks.  Not too shabby and look for a similar year in 2011.  This kid is a gamer and he rises up to the challenges so in my mind he is one heading for an impact season.
5. Predictions. How many games does Carolina win this season? Does it take home any hardware? Do any players take home individual awards?
I predict USC to finish 10-2 in 2011 (MSU, Arkansas).  They will win the SEC East and I think they will knock off Alabama for the SEC Championship.  Call me crazy, but at this second, that is what I feel will happen as USC did it last year and knows what it takes to stop the Tide. They likely will head to the Sugar Bowl.
As far as hardware for the players, Marcus Lattimore gets an invite to New York but finishes fourth in the Heisman voting behind Andrew Luck, Kellen Moore and LaMichael James.  Alshon Jeffery gets the nod as the best WR in 2011.