Charlotte, NC- The South Carolina Gamecocks closed the season with a 9-5 record last season, and came home with an SEC Eastern division title and a No. 22 ranking.
The Gamecocks will open the 2011 regular season on September 3rd with a game against the East Carolina Pirates in Charlotte, NC at Bank of America Stadium (home of the Carolina Panthers)
The Pirates are competitors in Conference USA, winning the conference championship in 2008 and 2009. Also, the last time they played at the Panthers' stadium, they beat Virgina Tech 27-22.
The Carolina defense will have their hands full with Ruffin McNeil's explosive offense, which averaged 36.7 points per game, lead by Quarterback Dominique Davis, who threw for 3,967 yards and 37 Touchdowns in 2010.
This may be a problem for the Gamecocks, who finished in the bottom 100's in the nation in passing yards allowed. The secondary can be easily blamed for the two losses to Auburn, in which the defense allowed 91 points.
Ellis Johnson was also left with his head scratching after Ryan Mallet ripped USC for 303 yards, along with a 70 percent accuracy rate. Arkansas beat South Carolina 41-20 in the game.
The Gamecocks will also remember Florida State Quarterback E.J Manuel from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The secondary was at fault in all five losses.
The secondary has room for improvement in 2011. On a positive note, the defensive line was solid in 2010. The line should be improved with the addition of Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
On the other hand, East Carolina's defense has nowhere to go but up, as they finished dead last in the nation, giving up 44.0 points per game to non-BCS competition, including a 76-35 loss to Navy.
Fans in Columbia should salivate, because the Gamecocks offense may have the best one-two punch in America. Meet Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery. USC averaged 31.9 points per game in 2010.
The two should be accompanied by troubled yet talented Quarterback Stephen Garcia, who has went through five suspensions due to poor decision making in the offseason with alcohol.
Fans considered his status up in the air, but my doubts disappeared when Garcia's name appeared on the post spring depth chart.
Besides, Garcia is the school's third place quarterback in all time passing yards with over 6,000.
If Garcia struggles, Spurrier won't be afraid to pull the plug.
Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw turned in impressive spring games.
The Pirates will be switching to a 3-4 defense, under Defensive Coordinator Brian Mitchell.
This is the first game of a five game series between the Gamecocks and the Pirates. The Pirates are technically titled the home team, but the Gamecocks will receive 40,000 tickets, while East Carolina will get 30,000.
The Gamecocks Nation will turn the Queen City to a sea of garnet and black on September 3rd. The game will be a unique college football experience for fans across the Carolinas.
The Pirates also have loyal fans.
And the Gamecocks should light up the scoreboard...
I can't wait until September Third.
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