MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The South Carolina Gamecocks may have been under the radar to a degree heading into last Saturday’s game against Georgia. But after throttling the Bulldogs, South Carolina has become a legitimate threat to the University of Alabama in the SEC.
While South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is known for his offensive prowess, it’s the defense that is inspiring fear in opposing offensive coordinators. It starts along the defensive line with monster defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor.
Clowney is a former number one overall recruit in the nation and has racked up 6.5 sacks in six games this season for the Gamecocks. Taylor, who stands 6’8”, has pulled down 1.5 sacks on the season and both have wreaked havoc on offensive tackles throughout the SEC.
Saturday, the Gamecocks completely dismantled Georgia 35-7. The win was South Carolina’s 10th in a row and was the third straight victory over the Bulldogs. Spurrier is no stranger to national championship aspirations and this is his most complete Gamecocks team since he took over in 2005.
“We certainly like where we are at right now, but we’re smart enough to know it’s still a difficult road for us,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier’s defense, ranked fourth in the country in scoring defense, will step way up in competition this weekend when the Gamecocks travel to Death Valley in Baton Rouge to battle ninth-ranked LSU. The Tigers are coming off their first loss of the season at the hands of the Florida Gators.
The Gamecocks offense is finally starting to catch up with the defense as well, which should worry future opponents. Led by quarterback Connor Shaw and running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina has proven they can score almost at will against anyone.
Shaw has been especially lethal after missing just one pass against Missouri, the junior quarterback is completing nearly 76 percent of his passes this year for 733 yards, 7 touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Lattimore, who is one year removed from ACL reconstruction surgery, has started to look like the player he was and is averaging 92 yards per game on just 19 attempts per game. Combined with Shaw’s ability to escape the pocket, opponents have been kept off guard to exactly what the Gamecocks will do next.
But South Carolina has plenty of roadblocks ahead before it can consider itself a true national championship contender. The Gamecocks face LSU this weekend and then play on the road at Florida next weekend.
After that, the Gamecocks should be favored heading into a non-conference game played in Clemson against the Tigers.
If South Carolina can get past all of that, they still have to tangle with likely SEC West champion Alabama before they could be considered for the BCS national championship game. But, given what Spurrier had when he took over, his remake of the Gamecocks is almost complete and a few more victories will get him that much closer to the top of the mountain again.