The South Carolina football team kicks off the 2011 season in exactly one week and what better way to get the thoughts going than to conduct a Gamecocks football roundtable with one of our favorite Gamecock blogging pals – Garnet & Black Attack.
We issued Gamecock Man of GABA five questions and here are his answers:
1. In your mind who is the key to the USC defense in 2011?
I’m going to cheat and answer this question in a few different ways. The star in USC’s defense is Devin Taylor. Our defensive strength will be an excellent defensive line punctuated by what will perhaps be the nation’s best pass rush, and Taylor is going to be the individual star in that great unit. The biggest question mark is safety. Carolina has limited depth at the position and is starting a player, Jimmy Legree, with limited experience in key SEC matchups. If safety is steady and doesn’t end up being a liability, Carolina could have a great overall defense. The key player no one is talking about but should be is Shaq Wilson. People have forgotten this once prized player whose 2010 season was lost to injury. This year he’s back, but no one is talking about him in all the whirl of discussion of Taylor, Jadeveon Clowney, and the secondary. However, he’ll have a big impact. Ellis Johnson once called him the defense’s QB. For a unit that wilted in key situations last year, it will be good to have a leader like Wilson on the field.
2. USC has been blessed with strong kickers of late, does not having this luxury concern you in 2011?
I think we’ll be OK. I won’t say I’m not just a tad bit worried, but I’ve been pleased to hear out of practice that Joey Scribner-Howard is punting extremely well and that Jay Wooten is consistently nailing his mid-range FGs. I think these two guys will be reliable replacements for the undervalued Spencer Lanning.
3. Many think USC has the right tools for a special season in 2011, what is disappointment to you in thinking about this season?
As much as I’m excited about his senior season, I’ll likely always think that Stephen Garcia squandered some of his talent. I don’t blame the guy too much because I think a lot of the stuff he’s done is pretty typical for the twenty-something college guy, but, still, I feel that he could have been a multi-year All-SEC talent with more dedication. Of course, I’m hoping he redeems himself this year.
4. What game on the schedule is a game USC can not overlook in your view?
At Tennessee. The Gamecocks have Georgia and Florida circled as the key SEC East games, and Tennessee is flying under the radar. However, while I don’t think the Vols will challenge for a division title, I do think they’re good enough to play spoiler, and our visit to Knoxville–where we’ve only won once in our entire history–looks like as good a chance as any for them to spring an upset against one the better East teams. Particularly with secondary a concern for us, Tennessee’s passing attack is going to be very dangerous in that game.
5. Go on the record for what the final USC record will be in the 2011-2012 season as far as wins and losses.
11-1 regular season. I think we win the East but drop one of the games during the stretch where we play Miss. St., Tennessee, and Arkansas, all on the road. I predict that we’ll then lose to ‘Bama in the SECCG and finish out the season with a Sugar Bowl victory over Wisconsin. Even without the SEC Title, that’ll equal 12 wins and Carolina’s best season on the books.
Thanks so much to our pals over at Garnet and Black Attack for doing this with us. When you are not reading their blog, I hope you will visit us.