The Gamecocks had a rough year in 2020, going 2-8 in an SEC-only season due to COVID-19. Although it was a tough season, there were a lot of bright spots, including RB Kevin Harris and DE Kingsley Enagbare. I believe that Gamecock fans should be cautiously optimistic heading into the 2021 season. The Gamecocks have a realistic chance of starting the season 6-2, due to a somewhat soft front end of the schedule. As Gamecock fans know, the Gamecocks never seem to make anything easy, but I don’t see the Eastern Illinois Panthers putting up much of a fight.
The Panthers also had a very rough 2021, going 1-5 in a short, six-game season in the spring. With big losses to teams like South East Missouri and Jacksonville State, the Panthers don’t seem to be a competitive football team.
The Panthers offense only averaged around 20 points a game while facing weak defenses all season. With a pretty balanced attack, the Panthers offense is still not very lethal. The Panthers only seemed to scrape across 13 touchdowns all season, 5 rushing and 8 passing touchdowns.
Projected QB Otto Kuhns threw for 509 yards, 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions after splitting time throughout the season. This young QB seemed promising and the Panthers are known for producing QB talent with Jimmy Garoppolo and Tony Romo as examples. This is for sure a kid to look out for. There was no real RB for the Panthers last season as 3 guys split snaps all season without one single guy standing out. There is no clear starter at RB for the Panthers yet. The WR room is also weak, with no star players there.
The Panthers defense was just as much of a problem in 2020, allowing almost 400 yards a game. The Gamecocks shouldn’t even have to throw a pass against the Panthers in September. There is no reason why Kevin Harris and MarShawn Lloyd should have less than 150 rushing yards a piece against the Panthers.
I expect the Gamecocks to have an offensive explosion in week 1 versus the Panthers. Luke Doty has a great chance to get comfortable against the Panthers and really settle in for the 2021 season. The Gamecock offense should be able to put up some crazy numbers against the Panthers, leading the Gamecocks to a massive win.
GAME TIME: Sept. 4, 7 p.m.
PREDICTION: Gamecocks 52, Panthers 17.