2017 Prespring Rankings: No. 45 South Carolina Gamecocks
The 2017 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the South Carolina Gamecocks
No. 45: South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Gamecocks Prespring Status
After a disastrous 2015, South Carolina started to show signs of life again in an okay 2016 in the first year of the Will Muschamp era, getting to a bowl game despite a rough finishing kick. The Gamecock offense sputtered and struggled, failing to score more than 14 points seven times, losing six of them, while the defense didn’t do enough to pick up the slack, especially against the run. But to be fair, Muschamp had plenty of work to do, and again, at least USC got to a bowl. It’s a start.
The coaching staff wasn’t afraid to throw the young guys to the wolves, with eight offensive starters coming back who got the call as underclassmen. Just one starter – LT Mason Zandi – is gone from the O, and six starters are back on defense, not including star LB Skai Moore after missing all last season.
South Carolina Gamecocks Biggest Issue
The pass rush has to be better and the pass protection has to be stronger. The Gamecocks only came up with 21 sacks, and now 12 of them are gone including nine from the leader on the end, Darius English. Meanwhile, the offensive line that gave up 41 sacks and helped crank out just 134 yards per game has to be far stronger, and far more effective.
South Carolina Gamecocks Biggest Positive
The offensive backfield has the potential to be excellent – at least in terms of returning experience. Leading rushers Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner were just freshmen last season, and all but 24 of the 1,747 rushing yards the team came up with return. Even better, late in the season, QB Jake Bentley looked like the franchise offensive playmaker and leader to build around.
Really, Why Are The South Carolina Gamecocks Ranked Here?
The top defensive ends are gone, both kickers are done, and linebackers T.J. Holloman and Jonathan Walton have to be replaced, but it’s a team full of experience and upside. If the offense can figure out how to start scoring on a more regular basis, and if the defense can start to play up the Muschamp level, this could work. South Carolina could be dangerous.