South Carolina Football: 3 Players Who Have Surprised Us in 2013
There is no denying that South Carolina is a deep, talented team. With a roster that is this athletic from top to bottom, players were bound to surprise us.
The familiar faces of Connor Shaw, Dylan Thompson, Jadeveon Clowney and Bruce Ellington continue to have impacts for the Gamecocks, but it's the surprise players who bring a whole new outlook to the team.
While some players are expected to amaze based on recruitment talent and potential, it is still impressive how well certain players are performing this season.
Here are three players who have surprised us in 2013.
I know that the defense has struggled, especially at the linebacker position. The good news is that help should be on the way once Cedrick Cooper returns, which could be this weekend against Central Florida. Cooper could wind up as the "Mike" linebacker.
While the linebacker as a whole has been poor, Marcquis Roberts has shown that he has a nose for the football and that he can make tackles.
Roberts has 18 total tackles, including two tackles for a loss and a sack. Through three games, those are average numbers and don't merit him as a surprising player. Yet, through the struggles, Roberts has shown that he can be a reliable rotation player at linebacker, and that is exactly what this team needs.
With injuries all over the defense and a thin roster at linebacker, the Gamecocks need Roberts.
So his play has been average, but it is a nice surprise to have an average linebacker at that spot who can either rotate with Cooper or hold down the position alongside him.
Mike Davis had big shoes to fill. And I did expect him to hit the ground running as a force for the Gamecocks' offense.
But did we really think Davis would be this good?
Three games into the season, Davis is averaging 7.6 yards per carry on his 45 attempts for 341 yards. He also has three rushing touchdowns.
Beyond the rushing attack, Davis is potent as a receiver. With 7 receptions for 116 yards, Davis displays his balance and ability to impact the game in a variety of ways.
Of course Davis was going to be a good back. Right now, though, he is proving that he belongs in the ranks of the elite college football running backs.
He torched Georgia for 149 yards on just 16 carries. Davis continues to put the Gamecocks on his back and run all over defenses.
As just a sophomore, Davis had big-time potential to become a star as the year progressed and as he moved into his upperclassman years. Davis has sped up his progress to have an instant impact on the game, though, and has quickly become the centerpiece of the South Carolina offense.
Say what you will about Davis' performance not being that surprising, but Davis is surprising us all due to the speed of his success.
Let's stick on the offensive side of the ball and give some credit to big guys in the trenches.
Redshirt freshman center Clayton Stadnik has been a pleasant surprise on the offensive line as he has filled in for the injured Cody Waldrop.
With Waldrop out, head coach Steve Spurrier turned to the youngster to take over the snaps and the middle of the offensive line.
It's not easy for a center to jump right into starting duties as it is a position that requires precision and chemistry with the quarterback, but Stadnik has stepped up and performed very well at center.
He helped to anchor an offensive line that did not allow a sack or quarterback hurry in the win over Vanderbilt. The unit also helped to lead the Gamecocks to 31 first downs and 579 yards of total offense, which were both the second-highest marks in each category in the Spurrier era.
In recognition of his outstanding play, Stadnik earned SEC accolades as the conference's offensive lineman of the week.
Stadnik has strung together quite a surprising series of performances in 2013.
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