Auburn Battles the "Ole Ball Coach" in Fourth Game of the Season

Michael AbbottContributor IIIAugust 29, 2010

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Quarterback Mike Kafka #13 of the Northwestern Wildcats runs for a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2010 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Is this the year South Carolina makes some noise in the SEC? Does the "Ole Ball Coach" have his team turning the corner?

Some in the media say yes.

Is it because of the talent the Gamecocks have, or because of coach Spurrier?

This will be the most returning talent Spurrier has had since he's been at South Carolina. All but seven starters return, and that has the faithful in Columbia thinking this could be the year.

Whether or not Spurrier has a good year will depend on redshirt junior quarterback Stephen Garcia

In 2009, Garcia passed for 2,862 yards and 17 touchdowns with 10 picks. He also rushed for 186 yards and four scores.

After the spring, Coach Spurrier was very critical of Garcia's commitment to football, causing the signal caller to attend every summer workout and hitting the weight room.

Spurrier has let it be known that he was impressed with the play of freshman quarterback Connor Shaw.

Shaw enrolled early for the spring and is the quarterback of the future. Although Garcia looks to be the starter, Spurrier has been know to pull the plug and give the backup a shot.

The offensive line looks to return all starters; they are going to be under their third line coach in as many years. The line will be a concern as the season starts and will have to learn new techniques once again.

But the strength of the offense will be at wide receiver. Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery return, along with six others that saw playing time last season.

The running back position will have three returners with experience, along with one of the top running back recruits in the country. Don't be surprised to see the Gamecocks use a "running back by committee" approach.

The defense lost two players from the line to the NFL from last season's third best defense in the SEC, but still look to be improved.

The interior line with returning linebacker corp will be very strong, and the Gamecocks will have one of the best secondaries in the SEC, if not the nation, led by sophomore Stephon Gilmore.

With some publications having South Carolina with the nation's second toughest schedule, it'll be interesting to watch and see if Spurrier can work his magic like he did at Florida.