Many pundits are predicting a difficult season for South Carolina this year, but some see reason for optimism.
CBS Sports analyst Gary Danielson said the schedule lines up for the Gamecocks to possibly exceed expectations in 2016. They get Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Kentucky in SEC play in the first month of the season, along with ECU as a non-conference opponent. The problem for the Gamecocks is that all three of those SEC games are on the road.
“The schedule is what South Carolina has to pin their hopes on,” Danielson said. “They open with three (SEC) teams they should be able to compete with, but all three in the SEC are on the road. That could make this a really long season or a really exciting season.”
After that first month, South Carolina’s schedule toughens up considerably. The Gamecocks’ home slate features tests against Texas A&M, Georgia and Tennessee. The rest of their road schedule includes games at Florida and Clemson.
Former UCLA head coach and current CBS Sports analyst Rick Neuheisel said first-year South Carolina coach Will Muschamp knows that a bowl game would be considered a great performance.
“I know what he’s doing. He’s sitting there circling games on that schedule that he thinks he might win, so that he can get himself to postseason,” Neuheisel said. “Because if he can get himself to postseason, given where they were a year ago, they’re going to call that a huge success.”
Neuheisel also said that Muschamp has reason to be grateful after getting the opportunity to be a head coach in the SEC again.
“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Neuheisel said. “I’m speaking as a fired football coach. For him to get another chance at a Power 5 school, especially in a conference as deep and rich as the SEC, is a remarkable achievement in and by itself. So it’s really important that he do well.”