What you need to know about South Carolina’s upcoming season:
Gamecocks getting used to change: They won’t have the same kind of defensive presence this year like they had last year with Jadeveon Clowney and others departing. They also are breaking in a somewhat new quarterback with Dylan Thompson, who saw decent playing time last season, but didn’t start the majority of the year.
Tough first three games: The Gamecocks not only start the season against Texas A&M, but also have to do it on Thursday. They get to play host, but it will be the first game with Thompson as the lead man under the gun. The next game isn’t too bad against East Carolina, but they aren’t chumps and Steve Spurrier knows it. Right after that is Georgia, likely the toughest game they face in the SEC East, but fortunately it is at Williams-Brice.
Toughest matchups: At Auburn, at Florida, and at Clemson. The most difficult game of the three will have to be Florida just because they aren’t really sure what to expect from them with a new offensive coordinator and Jeff Driskel playing a full season. However, that’s not to downplay the other two — Auburn is ranked 6th and Clemson, 16th.
Easiest matchups: Furman, South Alabama, and at Kentucky. Furman is one of the smallest D-1 colleges in America and definitely a little brother to South Carolina in the state. South Alabama is a warmup game for Clemson the next week and Kentucky is the punching bag of the SEC.
Possible Trap games: South Alabama and East Carolina. South Carolina could be looking ahead to Clemson when it plays the Jags from South Alabama and might find themselves in a more difficult game than they anticipated. It’s a similar case for East Carolina as the big Georgia game is the next week, but the Pirates are a much better team than South Alabama and could upset the Gamecocks.
South Carolina will get 10 wins if….they can avoid the letdowns of trap games and beat their in-state rivals from Clemson. They have to take the “game by game” approach as so many coaches like to preach and avoid looking ahead too far as well.
South Carolina will lose three or more if… they let East Carolina get the best of them and don’t play their best ball against a lot of its SEC opponents. Pretty much anyone but Kentucky (I can’t help it) could take them out if they aren’t cautious.