South Carolina has made it through its first three games and sits at 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league play. In this roundtable discussion, a few members of the GABA braintrust hold forth on what to make of how USC has performed so far.
1. After the first three games, what are your expectations for the rest of the season? How would you gauge success from this point?
Connor: Woof. The Georgia game sure did throw a wrench in our expectations for 2013, didn't it? I think any aspirations of the SEC East have to be pretty much out the window at this point. Sure, it's possible that Georgia finds a way to lose two games somewhere along the way in their SEC schedule, but it's even more likely that South Carolina loses one, whether it's at home against Florida or to one of their opponents in a daunting three-game road trip to Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Considered individually, the Razorbacks, Volunteers, and Tigers aren't that imposing, but going on the road in the SEC in three consecutive weeks will take its toll. If the Gamecocks can survive that stretch and beat three teams that they ought to beat, they could even lose to Florida and Clemson and still leave me feeling satisfied with this season.
Jorge: Despite South Carolina dropping one of its opening three for the first time since 2009, I'm still quite giddy about what this season may hold. A shootout loss to Georgia in Athens and one bad quarter of special teams play against Vanderbilt isn't enough to rain on this optimist's parade. The Gamecocks are fielding a top-10 caliber offense that hasn't faced any true defensive challenges yet, but early S&P+ returns suggest that, aside from Florida, we may not face any elite defenses in 2013. This bodes well for Connor Shaw and crew that's beginning to make a habit of posting 30+ points a game. Of course, South Carolina's defense has its own issues and special teams is a flat out liability. These factors give me pause, but hopefully our offense can hold down the fort while we find answers elsewhere.
ChickenHoops: I think my expectations haven't changed very much on the whole. Overall, I expect this to be an 8 to 10 win team. I thought the ceiling at the beginning of the year included an undefeated team, but that involved both luck and more improvement from certain areas (namely, LB and special teams) than it appears we'll be getting this year. But if we ended up as an elite team (i.e., top 5-10 in the nation), we had the schedule to go undefeated.