South Carolina Gamecocks
Connor Shaw ranks among the most underrated quarterbacks in the nation. The senior has thrown 10 TDs and no INTs through the first half of the season. He has also rushed for 319 yards and 2 TDs. Shaw doesn’t post the same huge numbers as some in the league, but his efficiency and effectiveness can’t be questioned – especially without an elite option in the passing game.
Rest of offense: A-
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier’s offense boasts a physical presence with a tough offensive line. RB Mike Davis is the SEC’s breakout star so far. He leads the conference with 742 rushing yards and 9 TDs. WR Bruce Ellington is the best of the Gamecocks receivers and provides a reliable presence for Shaw. South Carolina has scored 27 points or more in every game so far this season.
Perhaps the Gamecocks solved their defensive struggles this week during their 52-7 road win over Arkansas. It’s about time they started to more closely resemble last year’s unit anyway. South Carolina has allowed 25 points or more in four of its six games. Superstar DE Jadeveon Clowney has been invisible for virtually the entire season. When the defense needed a stop most, against Georgia, the Bulldogs physically dominated South Carolina to run out the clock. Still, the Gamecocks rank third in the conference in total defense after playing two of the worst offenses in the league.
As is the case with Georgia, Florida and Missouri, South Carolina finds itself in great position to contend for the SEC East title. The Gamecocks are the healthiest of the remaining contenders. They don’t own the tie-breaker over Georgia, but still can over the Tigers and Gators.
Offensive Spotlight: WR Shaq Roland
So far, the highlight of Roland’s season came on the first drive of the season when he ran under a Shaw pass for a 65-yard touchdown. The sophomore has just seven catches for 96 yards since that play and was suspended the last three games for a violation of team rules. Now Roland returns to the lineup and could give the Gamecocks another dynamic option.
Defensive Spotlight: DE Jadeveon Clowney
We’re all still waiting and wondering if we’re going to see the dominant figure Clowney was over his first two seasons at South Carolina. It’s no secret he has fallen short of those expectations through the first half of what will almost certainly be his final year on campus. Clowney is the most dominant defensive player in the nation when right and properly motivated. Will he ever look like that player this season?