Fresh off of making the cut for CBS Sports’ preseason Top 25 at No. 22, the South Carolina Gamecocks find themselves in another one: This time, it’s the good folks at Yahoo Sports who have seen fit to rank the Gamecocks, slotting them at 25th.
Here’s a little bit from their preview of what they expect from South Carolina’s season, starting with the offense:
It would help if [quarterback Jake Bentley] got some support from the run game. Rico Dowdle missed five games because of injury but averaged less than four yards per carry when he was healthy. A.J. Turner was at 5.4 and Ty’Son Williams hit 5 on the nose. If Dowdle can get to where they are, South Carolina will have a balanced rushing attack behind an offensive line expected to start three seniors.
Definitely agree the running game could make this offense take off. We all know the Gamecocks are working with a lot of talent at receiver — highlighted, of course, by the return of Deebo Samuel — but the running backs have the chance to push the offense to a higher level.
Linebacker T.J. Brunson, the team’s second-leading tackler, is back as the only returning starting linebacker. He’ll need some help cleaning up near the line of scrimmage, but there are a few intriguing candidates in Bryson Allen-Williams, who can line up at all three spots, and sophomore Sherrod Greene. Allen-Williams, a fifth-year senior, has 135 tackles and 15 tackles for loss in his career.
Defensively, Yahoo wonders about replacing Skai Moore, but also doesn’t appear to be too concerned about the linebacking corps. I agree, since I think the secondary is by far the weakest link of this defense.
Yahoo also gets credit for being one of the few national outlets to point out that actually, South Carolina’s schedule is good:
South Carolina has the benefit of a schedule rotation that only provides one road game that doesn’t automatically scream “winnable.” That’s Nov. 10 at Florida, a week after the Gamecocks visit an Ole Miss team that’s playing for pride once again in 2018. ... If all goes well, and we think it could, this is a team that may have eight or nine wins heading into a season-ending game at Clemson on Nov. 24.
And finally, Yahoo rightfully highlights the magnitude of the Georgia game, as it’s a big test for the Gamecocks and always important in the SEC East division race.