South Carolina Football: Ranking the 5 Best Offensive Weapons for Gamecocks
The South Carolina Gamecocks are loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball for the 2013 college football season.
Despite losing Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders, the Gamecocks are recharged with returning players and young talents waiting to have an impact on the game.
South Carolina has a very balanced offense for 2013 that can both run and pass the ball with solid efficiency.
Many players can step up and become offensive weapons in a given moment, though this ranking looks toward the key factors of potential for a big season and consistency of play.
Here is a list of the five best offensive weapons for the Gamecocks in the fall.
Quarterback Connor Shaw is coming off a productive season despite battling the injury bug throughout most of the year.
Shaw powered through injuries and started 11 of the games during the season.
He is coming off foot surgery, but once he returns to the field, South Carolina gets back a strong quarterback who can lead the way.
Shaw scrambles well and runs the read-option effectively.
While criticized for his arm at times, Shaw is actually an accurate passer with a more than sufficient arm as he completed 67.5 percent of his passes in 2012.
Shaw's accuracy is valuable since he limits turnovers through the air, too.
The bottom line is that Shaw is an all-around solid quarterback who gets the job done. He wins football games and is at the helm for the Gamecocks, which earns him a slot on this list.
It's quite rare to see two quarterbacks listed as offensive weapons for a team for the same season, but the Gamecocks have the nation's best backup quarterback.
Dylan Thompson has a cannon of an arm that is NFL ready.
To go along with a powerful arm, Thompson has a lot of in-game experience, leadership skills and the respect of his teammates.
Whenever Shaw had to come out of the game due to injury, Thompson stepped up to the challenge and put together some strong performances.
Shaw is the starter on this team, though head coach Steve Spurrier may platoon his quarterbacks since there is so much talent between Shaw and Thompson.
As the Gamecocks shift to a pro-style, power-running offense, Thompson may get more playing time and can light up defenses through the play-action passing game.
Thompson has all of the skills to have a huge impact on a game and is an offensive weapon for South Carolina.
Mike Davis started out the spring in a heated position battle with fellow running back Brandon Wilds.
Davis impressed all of the coaches and quickly earned himself the starting nod for the fall and deserves the opportunity.
As a prototypical running back at 5'9" and 215 pounds, Davis has a perfect combination of explosive quickness and power.
Davis has the patience to wait for his lineman to set blocks, lurking behind the line and then bursting through the gaps. Once he hits the open field, Davis can make tacklers miss and go the distance.
He could also have an impact in the passing game with screens and plays out of the backfield.
Replacing Marcus Lattimore is extremely tough to do. Even though Davis is a sophomore, he has big-time talent and could be in for a breakout season in his first year of a major role in the offense.
Realistically, any wide receiver could land on this list.
Shaq Roland is young, but he has a whole lot of talent.
Damiere Byrd is lightning fast.
Nick Jones can make plays.
K.J. Brent is the biggest of the wide receiving corps.
Yet, Bruce Ellington has the opportunity to become a consistent offensive weapon.
Ellington led the team in receiving yards last season with 600 yards on 40 catches while also catching seven touchdowns.
He is a dedicated player who is also on the basketball team and when presented with the chance to take time off, Ellington quickly declined and returned to the gridiron for spring practice.
Ellington may be a little small at 5'9", though he is solid out of the slot or lining up out wide.
The quarterbacks may also have a stronger connection with Ellington because he is consistent and had a strong finish at the end of the 2012 season with both Shaw and Thompson as his quarterback.
Overall, Ellington is an established target who should benefit from being a top receiving option.
The Tight Ends
South Carolina has two huge, athletic and versatile tight ends who both deserve a spot on this list.
Rory "Busta" Anderson and Jerell Adams are going to thrive in Spurrier's two-tight end sets in the passing game.
Anderson is a perfect red-zone target with his long frame and good hands. He has scored touchdowns on eight of his 21 career receptions.
He was a feature of the offense in the spring game and is projected as the starting tight end for this season.
Alongside Anderson is Adams who has extreme athleticism and receiving skills.
Adams will benefit from attention going toward Anderson and the major mismatch issues he presents for opposing defenses. Linebackers will not be able to keep up with his explosive speed, and safeties are far too small to compete with Adams on jump balls in downfield coverage.
Covering one of these guys is very difficult.
Covering both of these tight ends is virtually impossible.
Anderson and Adams are two impressive talents and big-time offensive weapons who are ready to produce for the Gamecocks.