Where does South Carolina football rank?
The 2021 football season will soon be upon us, with South Carolina’s opener set for September 4th against Eastern Illinois. As the year creeps closer, we’re beginning to see some preseason projections roll in regarding the SEC and the Gamecocks’ projected performance in year one under Shane Beamer.
Most predictions haven’t been too high on the program, and 24/7 Sports’ best guesses for the 2021 SEC football season aren’t much better.
The site sees the Gamecocks finishing sixth in the SEC East, just a spot above Vanderbilt. Georgia was the overwhelming favorite to win the division, while Florida came in second, receiving just two of the possible 32 first-place votes. Rounding out the East was Kentucky, Missouri, and then Tennessee, followed by the Gamecocks and last-placed Commodores.
On the western side of things, Alabama is the top choice. They project to play the Bulldogs in the SEC Championship Game come December, and have received 27 of 32 votes to repeat as conference champs.
Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, Auburn, Arkansas, and Mississippi State round out the West. Of the 14 SEC affiliates, South Carolina graded out at 11th, earning 84 total points from the 32 voters. Only Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt received fewer.
It’s certainly going to be tough sledding for coach Beamer in year one as he takes on one of the nation’s most difficult slates. Four of the nation’s top 10 national title contenders are on the schedule, and the Gamecocks could face as many as seven ranked teams over it’s 12-game campaign.
South Carolina does bring back some pieces on offense, most notably the conference’s leading rusher Kevin Harris, but there are question marks at other key areas. Luke Doty looks to lead the unit in his first full season, but he’s looking for someone to step up in the passing game. Just one returning player on the roster tallied more than 200 receiving yards a year ago.
On defense, the Gamecocks are replacing five members of the secondary and leading tackler Ernest Jones. The defensive line should be strong, but will it be enough to cut down on the 36 points allowed per game last season?
It’s not surprising to see the low projections for the South Carolina football, especially with a completely new coaching staff entering the mix. Hopefully, the new unit can put the team in a better position to succeed this Fall and the Gamecocks can exceed expectations. I’m sure these preseason predictions will be used as motivation leading into the season opener.