South Carolina. Yes the South Carolina Gamecocks will be the surprise team in the SEC East. The gamecocks return 19 starters from last years team, a seasoned QB in Stephen Garcia who passed for over 2,800 yards ( 30th in the nation and 2nd in the SEC) and 17 tds and ran for 4 tds and 130 yards on the ground, and a quality defense that finished 3rd in the SEC and 15th in the nation ( 8th in passing defense). The gamecocks received a boost in the running game when they landed Marcus Lattimore the #1 running back in the 2010 class according to Rivals.com giving them the physical everydown back that they have needed under Spurrier's tenure. Kenny Miles who ran for 626 yards in 09 and Lattimore should provide a quality one-two punch for the ground game. The wide-outs for South Carolina include freshman phenom 6-3 Ashlon Jeffrey who had 730 yards in just 10 games and 6 tds, 6-5 Tori Gurley, and potentially sleeper Ace Sanders at slot. A crucial element to remember about South Carolina's wr corps is that they are the tallest in the SEC. This creates jump ball opprotunities and mismatches against many secondaries in the SEC. This fact is especially important because Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia are all starting freshmen in their secondary. This will pay dividends to South Carolina's offense. At TE Wesley Saunders is a match up threat for DBs who had 353 yards for 32 receptions and 3 tds in 2009. Defensively the gamecocks secondary should be stellar one again lead by the last years All SEC freshman Stephon Gilmore and Devonte Holloman. Replacing Eric Norwood will be a challenge but potentially Shaq Wilson or Rodney Paulk could solidify the lb position. On defensive line the addition of Kelcy Quarles is a huge pick up for South Carolina. Hes fast for a DT and has a non-stop motor. DE Cliff Matthews is a pass rushing machine should provide the gamecocks a great pass rush.
A quick analysis of the rest of the teams in the SEC East is important in judging South Carolina's chance of success in the SEC east in 2010. Both Georgia and Tennessee lose their best defensive players in Curran and Berry and both are installing new defensive schemes. Kentucky lost a lot of key players on defense as well. Vanderbilt is still trying to find an offense that looks to be as bad as 2009. Tennessee loses 17 starters that included their starting QB, RB, DT, LBs, and a bunch of offensive lineman and their TE. Every team in the SEC East with the exception of South Carolina will be starting either a freshman QB or a QB with little experience such as Brantley at Florida. Florida lost Tim Tebow, DE Dunlap, LB Brandon Spikes, and safety Marjor Wright. However, the Gators still have Urban Meyer and brought in the #1 recruiting class in the nation and still should win the East. Bottom line the SEC East is ripe for a South Carolina move and the game in gainsville in the Swamp on November 13th should decide the SEC East champion
Predicted 2010 record- 9-3
Wins - S. Miss, Georgia, Furman, Kentucky, Vandy, Tenn, Arkansas, Troy and Clemson
Loses, Auburn, Alabama, and Florida.