Without Stephen Garcia I don't see South Carolina repeating as SEC East Champions.
Last year South Carolina went 5-3 in the SEC and won the division by one game over Florida (they also held the tie-breaker over Florida). Since the divisions split for the 1992 season that is the worst record any team has ever had that won the SEC East. The reason I bring this up is not to knock on the Gamecocks but to make you understand how difficult it is to win the SEC East. Being 5-3 in the conference won't get it done year in and year out.
If Stephen Garcia doesn't play this year what are the odds that South Carolina will be a better team this year? What are the odds that Florida, Georgia and Tennessee are as bad as they were last year? I personally think that all three of those teams will be better than they were last year.
Let's play worst case scenario and say that Stephen Garcia gets kicked off the team before the season. That means that the Gamecocks would most likely turn to Connor Shaw, a true sophomore who attempted 33 passes last year. When was the last time a team won the SEC East with an underclassman starting at QB? It was 2004 when Tennessee won the East with a 7-1 in conference record with Erik Ainge (a freshman). Ainge played in 9 games and had the most stats of any of the Vols QBs that year but he actually split time with Rick Clausen (who at that time was a RS junior).
It should be noted that the Vols had two 1,000 yard rushers that year. History is not with the Gamecocks winning the SEC East with a young inexperienced QB. You might think by the tone of this blog that I'm a big fan of Stephen Garcia. That couldn't be further from the truth. Garcia is a very talented kid but I'd take probably half of the leagues starting QBs over him because of his inconsistencies on and off the field. That being said, he still represents South Carolina's best chance to re-peat as SEC East Champions.
South Carolina has the best WR in the league this year in Alshon Jeffrey and they have one of, if not the, best RBs in the league in Marcus Lattimore. This year is an important one for the Gamecocks because Jeffrey is NFL bound after this year and it is doubtful that we will see a WR the caliber of Jeffrey come through Columbia in the near future. Garcia has been suspended by Spurrier FIVE times during his time in Columbia. He's been suspended twice this spring. How can you get suspended twice in one month? If Steve Spurrier really thought he could win the East without Garcia, do you really think Garcia would still be on the team?