South Carolina College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season
South Carolina Biggest Key: Offense
Pass protection. For all of the things the new coaching staff wants to do – like open it up a bit more, generate more of a rhythm, start to keep defenses on their heels – it’s not happening unless the offensive line is stronger.
There’s experience and size with the four expected returning starters and all of the options looking the SEC part, but the cohesion has to be there from the beginning.
The Gamecocks allowed 27 sacks and an SEC-most 78 tackles for loss in just ten games, and now there’s a new offensive style, new wide receivers, and a green quarterback in – most likely – Luke Doty who needs all the time he can get.
And on the flip side …
South Carolina Biggest Key: Defense
Get into the backfield. It’s no coincidence that the Gamecock D couldn’t come up with a third down stop and was a disaster against the decent passers. South Carolina was bad at generating pressure and worse at coming up with tackles for loss.
There’s no excuse this time around.
The defense has the All-SEC end in Kingsley Enargbare, it has the speed rusher from the transfer portal in Jordan Strachan, and it has the bulk on the inside to let everyone else work.
The team came up with ten sacks in the first four games of the season, and it won two games and wasn’t awful in the other two. It came up with just four sacks the rest of the way and went 0-6.
Going back to 2016, South Carolina is 13-2 when generating three or more sacks.
South Carolina Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Luke Doty, Soph.
The 6-1, 204-pounder isn’t a lock for the starting gig, but it’s going to take something big from Jason Brown or Colten Gauthier to knock him out. He’s mobile, has a solid arm, and he has a little experience.
It wasn’t pretty, but he took over the last three games of the 2020 season and hit 61% of his passes for 405 yards and two touchdowns with three picks. For the most part, he handed off to Kevin Harris and made a whole lot of safe throws, but now he has to start stretching the field and make the O go for the new coaching staff.
South Carolina Key Game To The 2021 Season
Kentucky, Sept. 25
No one will be expecting too much out of the SEC opener at Georgia, but the Gamecocks should be 2-1 if they can get by Eastern Illinois and East Carolina. Kentucky will be the big moment to possibly become the big surprise team of the first half of the season.
Tennessee is still gettable, even on the road. Beat UK, and with Troy, the Vols, and Vanderbilt to follow, there’s a real shot to be bowl eligible by the time the brutal second half of the season rolls around.
Lose, and then Tennessee is a must win considering how the schedule plays out over the last five games. More on that in the next section.
2020 South Carolina Fun Stats
– Tackles For Loss: Opponents 78 – South Carolina 39
– 1st Half Scoring: Opponents 192 – South Carolina 89
– 4th Down Conversions: South Carolina 17-of-23 (74%) – Opponents 8-of-15 (53%)