College Football End of Season Analysis: South Carolina Gamecocks
It took Steve Spurrier six seasons, but in 2010 he took South Carolina to their first SEC Championship Game. Despite going to the Championship Game they lost five times (two of them to National Champion Auburn). There were a lot of questions surrounding whether South Carolina had arrived or if they just benefited from a weak SEC East. Coming into 2011, the Gamecocks were one of the favorites to win the SEC East (in our pre-season predictions we had them #18 overall and voted them into a tie for the SEC East and Phil Steele had them 14th overall and 2nd in the SEC East).
So how did the Gamecocks fare? If I would have told you before the season that they would lose their starting QB (Stephen Garcia) and star RB (Marcus Lattimore) prior to the end of the season most would have thought the Gamecocks would have fallen to third or even fourth in the SEC East. Despite losing two key offensive cogs, the Gamecocks finished with the most wins in school history (11) and won double digits games for the first time since 1984. We talked with the guys behind the South Carolina Gamecocks based website Leftover Hot Dog to get their take on the 2011 season and take a brief glimpse into 2012.
CFBZ: What is the lasting memory you will have of this season?
Leftover Hotdog: 11 wins is the last memory. First time school history the Gamecocks accomplished that feat. Hopefully, this past type of season becomes the norm around the football program as it has generated loads of energy.
CFBZ: If you could re-play one of the losses from last year which would it be?
Lefover Hotdog: Auburn game. USC had everyone chance to get their act together and win the football game but for some reason they could not get their offensive to move the chains. USC was the better team overall but the ball did not bounce their way that day.
CFBZ: After four years as DC, Eillis Johnson has moved on to Southern Miss to take over as Head Coach. Tell us a little about his replacement, Lorenzo Ward.
Leftover Hotdog: First, don't expect a lot of changes to the scheme as he will still use the 4-2-5 base model and rely on what is called a "spur" position. As far as Coach Ward, he is well-liked amongst the players and fans. He is very direct with his players and has a unique ability to get 110% from his guys. The other thing about Ward is he is a great recruiter. Just look at the Class of 2012 and you will see his ability to develop a meaningful relationship with potential Gamecocks. To close on Ward, expect great things as he will impress just like he did against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl.
CFBZ: Connor Shaw took over at QB about half-way through the year and made significant strides towards the end of the year. What are your expectations for him next year?
Leftover Hotdog: Simply put - to build on it. It is his team now and he must grow both on the field and off. Shaw does a good job of protecting the ball and not forcing things like Stephen Garcia did. I would not be surprised, as long as USC wins a significant amount of games in 2012, that he ends up as a All-SEC performer.
CFBZ: What will be the biggest storylines for the Gamecocks going into spring practice?
Leftover Hotdog: For 2012, you will hear a lot about three things: the nasty defense, the wide outs and getting Marcus Lattimore back from injury. The defense lost a few key players but they are blessed with talent that should easily step up and fill those voids. For the most part, the defense returns. If the secondary improves their play, it could be a great year again on that side of the ball. Concerning the wide outs, well it is a mystery on who will step up to fill the production that Alshon Jeffery was capable of. Hopefully one or two recievers will emerge to help the offense. Lastly, Marcus Lattimore is back.
Previous 2011 Exit Surveys
Big 12- Kansas Jayhawks