The SEC is traditionally known for defensive powers, but the South Carolina Gamecocks have a lot to be happy about on the offensive side of the ball in 2013.
Head coach Steve Spurrier has a versatile, deadly offense that will be the offensive juggernaut of the SEC.
Few college football teams are lucky enough to have one solid starting quarterback. Guess how many South Carolina has?
The combination of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will be too much for teams to handle in 2013.
Shaw brings a dual-threat skill set to the field with his smart decision-making in the passing game and his ability to scramble and work the read-option. His 2012 campaign was hindered due to injury, but even through battling injuries, Shaw put together an impressive season.
If Shaw gets hurt, the Gamecocks have the nation's best insurance policy waiting in line behind him. Thompson is an absolute gunslinger of a pocket passer and is college football's best backup quarterback.
Thompson is underrated and should garner some playing time, regardless of an injury to Shaw. He is extremely accurate and has all of the intangibles to lead the Gamecocks with his football intelligence, leadership and powerful arm. And don't forget, Thompson may not be mobile, but can still make impressive throws on the run and extend plays with his feet.
All good quarterbacks need an offensive line to be protected by, and the Gamecocks have one of the strongest offensive lines in the SEC for 2013. South Carolina's offensive line all starts with giving some credit to the offensive line coach, Shawn Elliott.
Elliott has assembled a great bunch of linemen that returns four of its five starters and will have to utilize freshman offensive tackle D.J. Park at times.
Park is a 4-star recruit who is flat-out huge at 6'6" and 335 pounds. He has a great package of athleticism and toughness that is required for all SEC linemen who have one of the most difficult jobs in college football because matching up with SEC defensive lines can be a daunting task.
Look for the other linemen, including redshirt sophomore Brandon Shell and redshirt junior A.J. Cann, to be the absolute stars of this offensive line. Shell and Cann will garner a lot of attention for postseason accolades and be on the radar of many NFL scouts.
This line will be strong in the passing game and maybe even stronger in the rushing attack, even though the Gamecocks lost star running back Marcus Lattimore to the NFL.
Losing Lattimore is big, but Spurrier has a fairly deep backfield that has a variety of talents and rushing styles that will be potent when used correctly.
Sophomore Mike Davis will more than likely be named the starting back due to his ability to combine speed and power on every down. He can run inside and outside and will thrive behind this big-and-talented offensive line.
Davis will be the next offensive star for the Gamecocks and a potential nightmare for opposing 2013 SEC defenses. Yet, this team has depth and other running styles that will be very useful as a change of pace or for specific yardage situations.
Redshirt sophomore Brandon Wilds brings a power running game to the field for South Carolina. Wilds is 6'2" and 218 pounds and is not afraid to get into the dirty areas and pound his way through for yardage. Wilds could have a monster year in 2013 and is a great complement player to Davis.
The backfield continues even deeper than the projected top-two rushers. Redshirt sophomore Shon Carson has been riddled by injury early on in his young career, but he has the speed to bust open some big plays. Carson is a dark horse to have a major impact on the offense and continues to add to the Gamecocks' explosive offense.
Make sure to keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Kendric Salley as well. He has the same build as Davis and has a lot of potential, but will need some more time to develop. A strong spring performance will make or break his role in South Carolina for 2013.
Last, but certainly not least, South Carolina will have a young, speedy squadron of wide receivers for Shaw and Thompson to air it out to.
Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland will light up defenses this season as he gets more comfortable on the field. With his freshman year in the past, Roland will use his speed and sheer athleticism to leap into the air to snatch passes and break free for big plays.
Roland also is surrounded by junior Bruce Ellington, junior Damiere Byrd and redshirt sophomore K.J. Brent.
Ellington is the proven receiver with experience and will be a solid go-to target for the quarterbacks. Byrd also adds to the speedy bunch and can take the top off a defense. Whether he is a decoy receiver or making big plays, Byrd will be an integral part of the passing game.
Throw in Brent who is the tallest receiver of the four and a great red-zone target, thanks to that size, and the Gamecocks have one of the more complete receiving corps in the SEC.
Outside of the receivers, South Carolina has big potential in the tight ends. Junior Rory Anderson and sophomore Jerell Adams are both long, tall and agile which does not bode well for opposing defenses.
They are too big for corners to match up with and too quick for linebackers. They may be raw talents and need some experience, but if Spurrier uses these two properly, they will become a terrorizing tight end tandem in the SEC.
With all of these sets of talented football players, South Carolina has all of the tools to become the SEC's offensive juggernaut. Last year was a good offensive year for the Gamecocks, and this team will only be better this year, even without Lattimore.
Lattimore was an amazing back who could be relied on, but sometimes, he was too heavily relied upon. Now Spurrier has versatility, balance and explosiveness at all the positions on the field.
With the right coaching, which the Gamecocks clearly have in Spurrier, South Carolina will rise to the top of the SEC and assert themselves as the conference's offensive juggernaut.
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