2020 Season Preview: South Carolina Gamecocks

 In College Football, Football, SEC, Sports

Over the course of the next several weeks, the SoBros Network crew will be going around the landscape of the SEC, team by team, previewing the upcoming American tackle football season. Up next, our 2020 South Carolina preview!

2020 South Carolina Preview

Well, folks – here we are. It’s July of 2020, and we’re talking about entering another season of South Carolina in which Will Muschamp finds himself firmly on the hot seat. After a 4-8 campaign in 2019, Muschamp turned over a large portion of his assistants. There were already rumblings of buying him out, so this season looks like it might actually be the ‘make or break’ year for the Gamecocks coach. It’s not exactly a great spot to be in given the youth on this roster.

The biggest hope Muschamp may have of being South Carolina’s coach in 2021 is if COVID cancels the 2020 season…

Too harsh, but I couldn’t resist, y’all.

On offense, there is so much turnover. South Carolina loses one of the greatest receivers in program history, Bryan Edwards, to the NFL. In his absence, there are a ton of question marks at receiver. Shi Smith is a guy that figures to step into that #1 role, and has the speed to stretch defenses. Outside of him, there’s going to be plenty of opportunities for guys to step up. Likewise, they pretty much lose their entire backfield. A lot is going to be riding on MarShawn Lloyd‘s shoulders – not sure it’s advantageous to put that much on a true freshman. But, Lloyd is a strong kid with an imposing running style.

Then, of course, there’s the big question – quarterback. Ryan Hilinski has shown SEC-elite potential at time. The dude has a wealth of talent, and showed some real gumption in that upset over Georgia a season ago. But, he’s going to have to really put the offense on his back (even though Muschamp said they had to do a better job of supporting him…). There’s so much unproven on this South Carolina offense that even bringing Mike Bobo back to the SEC as an OC didn’t move the needle much for me.

The defense, on the other hand, is the x-factor in all of this. Obviously, if you lose a talent like Javon Kinlaw, it’s going to hurt. But, the Gamecocks are equipped with experience to make up for it. The team’s leading tackler, MLB Ernest Jones, is back. They get Keir Thomas back from injury. 2019 sack co-leader Aaron Sterling returns. And, the secondary figures to have quite the tandem in Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu. This is an experienced unit that could make South Carolina a dark horse bowl team.

All in all, this is a team with a head coach who is in win-now mode and a roster with question marks littered all over it. That doesn’t usually bode well in the SEC, but let’s be real – stranger things have happened.

2020 Gamecocks Schedule

9/5, vs. Coastal Carolina – The obligatory easy W to start the season.

9/12, vs. East Carolina – The Gamecocks start the season 2-0, and coincidentally undefeated against other Carolinas.

9/19, vs. Missouri – This one’s tricky – Mizzou happens to be in a bit of a rebuild of its own, and this game is in South Carolina. I could see the defense winning this one for ’em.

9/26, @ Kentucky – If this game was in South Carolina, I might give ’em a good chance to win, but I think this Kentucky team is going to be pretty good and it’s in Lexington, so the Wildcats get the dub.

10/3, @ Florida – No sir, no way – not the 2020 Florida Gators.

10/10, vs. Tennessee – I like the trajectory that Jeremy Pruitt put this Vols program on to close out 2019. They travel to South Carolina and get the win.

10/17: BYE

10/24, vs. Texas A&M – The Aggies could be a top 10 team in 2020. I like them as a potential dark horse in the SEC West. The South Carolina offense won’t be able to score with the Aggies.

10/31, @ Vanderbilt – The most likely spot for a conference win is Nashville. The only team that might be worse off than South Carolina in the SEC East is Vanderbilt.

11/7, vs. Georgia – Hey, they did it in 2019 – why can’t they do it in 2020? Just kidding – Georgia’s going to remember last season and be out for blood come November.

11/14, @ LSU – Though I expect the Tigers to take a big leap back in 2020, I don’t think it’s a lose-to-South-Carolina-at-home type of leap.

11/21, vs. Wofford – The third of what I’d consider ‘guaranteed’ wins. If they don’t take this one, something has gone horribly wrong.

11/28, @ Clemson – Nope.

Prediction

I could see a whole lot of ‘more of the same’ out of this South Carolina team, and unfortunately for Gamecocks, another 4-8 or 5-7 type of season. Outside of the games against Coastal Carolina, East Carolina, and Wofford, where are the guaranteed wins for this team? Vanderbilt? Mizzou? Wins are going to be hard to come by for a team that has a head coach who has become stagnant in the SEC and an offense that is as green as grass. Yeah, I’m not too high on South Carolina this season.

OTHER 2020 SEASON PREVIEWS

Auburn Tigers
Florida Gators
LSU Tigers
Memphis Tigers
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Ole Miss Rebels

Stoney Keeley is the Editor in Chief of The SoBros Network. He is a strong supporter of Team GSD and #BeBetter. “Big Natural” covers the Tennessee Titans, Nashville, and a whole wealth of nonsense. Follow on Twitter @StoneyKeeley

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