Columbia, South Carolina—As the slow summer sun sets each day in South Carolina, the 2010 University of South Carolina Football team is inching closer and closer to the Thursday, September 2, 2010 season opener versus the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Rabid Gamecock fans are ready to roll. Kickoff, though; is in three months. Will this finally be the "Year of the Gamecock?"
The last time the Fighting Gamecocks brought home a conference championship was in 1969, when they won the ACC. The last 10- win season came in 1984, 26 years from the present.
According to many "experts," this is South Carolina's best chance to make a sprint in the SEC East under offensive guru Steve Spurrier. Florida and Georgia are breaking in new quarterbacks for the first time since 2007, the year gator great Tim Tebow took control in Gainesville.
But Steve Spurrier is plenty concerned about his own quarterback, who goes by the name of Stephen Garcia.
Garcia passed for over 2,000 yards in 2009, but the Gamecocks coach wants the player to highly commit to film study and game preparation prior to the up-coming season.
When it comes to the game itself, Spurrier wants him to cut his sack total in half along with quicker decisions. If Stephen Garcia can prosper, then the Gamecocks will be a team to watch out for.
If Garcia does not commit, Steve Spurrier always has his Plan B; incoming freshman Connor Shaw. The Flowery Branch, Georgia native finished high school early and won the backup job. The young player is committed and ready to learn.
The South Carolina offense will have plenty of other problems if the offensive line cannot block the skill position players. New line coach Shawn Elliott is the third coach in as many years.
Elliott hopes to change the Gamecocks' recent blocking woes. South Carolina allowed 37 sacks in 2009, tied with LSU for last in the SEC.
If the line blocks well, fans are hoping All-American recruit Marcus Lattimore of Byrnes, SC can revive a dented running game. Lattimore, however; will be challenged by powerful back Kenny Miles.
On the defensive side of the ball, South Carolina should again rank at the top of the SEC. Ellis Johnson should lead a championship-caliber defense once again in 2010.
But before you get to excited, the Gamecocks must replace the likes of LB Eric Norwood, DE Clifton Geathers, and SS Darian Stewart.
Shaq Wilson will start at OLB in place of Norwood in 2010. The 5'10" Junior recorded 85 tackles while playing the MLB position for injured Rodney Paulk.
At DE, freakish-sized 6'4" 260 pound senior Cliff Matthews will most likely replace Clifton Geathers, who was drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
Lastly, DeVonte Holloman is projected to start at SS. He will be replacing Darian Stewart. The true freshman played in all 13 games last season, and many pundits expect him to break out in the upcoming season.