The South Carolina Gamecocks are coming off a miserable 3-9 campaign in 2015. They finished just 1-7 inside SEC play, which had them tied for last in the East with Missouri.
It was the first losing season the Gamecocks have suffered since 2003. During last year’s trying season, head coach Steve Spurrier resigned after 6 games. Shawn Elliot served as interim head coach for the final 6 games, but wasn’t brought back.
Instead the team went out and hired former Florida head coach Will Muschamp. A change was probably for the best, but it won’t be easy getting the Gamecocks back on track in 2016. Muschamp takes over a team that returns just 9 starters.
|Date||Opponent||Spread (Est.)||Win Chance|
|9/10||@ Mississippi State|
|Estimated Wins: TBD|
*We take the win chance by using the college football win percentage chart for each point spread.
South Carolina’s only conference win last year came at home against Vanderbilt. It just so happens they open up the season on the road against the Commodores. They then have to go on the road to face Mississippi State.
These are two teams that the Gamecocks should be competitive against. However, it’s a bit of a bad break to have to play them both right out of the gate. Especially given their inexperienced roster and new schemes being installed. They really would have benefited from a couple of easy non-conference games to start the year.
South Carolina gets a bit of a breather with East Carolina at home after playing the first two on the road. However, they have to turn right around and go to Kentucky.
After that they play 5 straight at home. The bad news here is three come against SEC powers in Georgia, Texas A&M and Tennessee. The others being a non-conference matchup against UMass and Missouri.
They close out the season with two brutal road games against Florida and Clemson in their final 3 games.
Last year the Gamecocks’ offense took a big step back. After scoring 30+ ppg the previous 5 years, they managed just 21.9 ppg in 2015. With a new offense being installed and just 4 starters back, this unit figures to struggle again in 2016.
South Carolina gets back some experience at quarterback. Senior Perry Orth started 8 games and sophomore Lorenzo Nunez started two. However, both may take a backseat to true freshman Brandon McIlwain. It says a lot about McIlwain’s talent for him to win the job, but chances are he will struggle.
A big concern on this side is just two starters return on the offensive line. On the bright side, they will be adding in some talented players. Sophomore Zach Bailey started 5 games last year as a true. Cory Helms is a transfer from Wake Forest, who has 23 career starts. They are also high on junior tackle D.J. Park. Overall the unit looks to be in about as good of shape as it was last year.
Last season the running game struggled to get going. Brandon Wilds led the team with just 567 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’s departed and it will be up to junior David Williams to lead the way. Don’t be surprised if one of the younger guys emerge. Red-shirt freshmen A.J. Turner and Mon Denson are both being added to the mix. They also bring in highly touted true freshman C.J. Freeman.
At wide receiver, the Gamecocks lose a big weapon in Pharoh Cooper. He easily led the team with 66 catches for 973 yards and 8 scores. The next best was Jerell Adams with 28 receptions and 421 yards. Unfortunately he’s also no longer around. Unless sophomore Deebo Samuel makes a big jump or true freshman Bryan Edwards shines, this unit will be a big weakness.
It wasn’t that long ago that South Carolina routinely sent out a top notch defense. They have really regressed on that side of the ball the last couple of years. Last season they gave up 27.5 ppg and 430 ypg.
The good news is that Muschamp is well respected for his ability to coach up this side of the ball. The bad news is there’s not a lot of talent coming back. Only 5 starters return from last year and all 3 levels figure to rank in the bottom 5 of the SEC.
It’s also important to note that they will be transitioning to a more 3-4 attack. They will have some similarities with the BUCK position being a hybrid defensive end/linebacker.
Senior Marquavius Lewis and junior Taylor Stallworth will be two starters in the trenches. Both of which were starters last year. The hope is that Lewis can live up the hype surrounding him after a disappointing 2015 season. Senior Darius English and red-shirt freshman Daniel Fennel are both candidates for the BUCK.
The lone returning starter back at linebacker is senior T.J. Holloman. They were also suppose to have senior Skai Moore back, but he suffered a season-ending injury in May. That’s a huge loss. Moore led the team last year with 111 tackles. He also had 2 sacks and 4 interceptions.
The secondary loses a couple of nice pieces in corner Al Harris and safety Isaiah Johnson. However, they do return 6 of their top 8 here overall. Including starting corner Rico McWilliams and safety Jordan Diggs. The hope is that juco transfer Jamarcus King can step in an start right away at the open corner spot.
Regular Season Win Total
SEC East Odds
SEC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes
*Odds updated live on our college football odds page
You just never know how a team is going to respond to a new head coach. With that said, I have a hard time seeing South Carolina surprising in Muchamp’s first season. There’s just not enough experience or talent coming back. Give him a couple years to get his recruits into the system and they should get back on track.
My biggest concern with this team is the schedule. Having to play 3 of their first 4 on the road is absolutely brutal. Even more so when all 3 are conference games. By the time they hit their 5-game homestand, the confidence of this team could be destroyed.
I have them going 0-8 inside SEC play and just 3-9 overall. However, I could see them potentially getting to 4 or 5 wins. They could easily win at home against Missouri and steal one on the road. Either way, this is going to be a rebuilding year in Columbia.
Win Total Prediction