We reviewed five preseason magazines — Athlon, ESPN, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and The Sporting News — and broke down their team-by-team predictions.
Wednesday, we examine South Carolina. Here is what’s being said about the Gamecocks:
Lindy’s (4th in SEC East): “The Gamecocks have moved on … to a completely contrasting style with Will Muschamp. The cupboard is pretty bare for the new South Carolina coach, who looks to prove he’s better than his results during his four-year run at Florida.”
ESPN (4th in SEC East — 6.2 projected wins): “Kurt Roper wants to run an up-tempo spread, so mobility under center will be critical. And while a trio of QBs who logged starts in 2015 return, true freshman and 2016 ESPN 300 dual-threat Brandon McIlwain may be best suited to run Roper’s O in the long run.”
Phil Steele (6th in SEC East [tied] — no bowl): “This looks like a rebuilding year, especially with home games vs. Georgia, Tennessee and Texas A&M, so most of their winnable SEC games are on the road.”
Sporting News (6th in SEC East): “The season’s first two games (at Vandy, home vs. Mississippi State) are critical if the Gamecocks want to get bowl eligible.”
Athlon (7th in SEC East — 4-8, no bowl): “A tough SEC slate and the overall roster transition will make it difficult for this team to show much progress in the win column.”
Preseason All-SEC selections*: Elliott Fry (2nd x1), Sean Kelly (3rd x1), Cory Helms (4th x1), Drew Williams (4th x1)
*NOTE: Three of the publications selected Skai Moore, but we didn’t include him in this tally due to his season-ending injury.
- Athlon listed South Carolina’s Oct. 8 game against Georgia as one of its 10 SEC games to watch.
- Athlon spoke with an anonymous coach who said, “I do think they’ll be a tougher team than you saw on tape last year. Will Muschamp will help them get there because he’ll get those guys to buy in or they won’t stick around.”
- ESPN ranked the Gamecocks fourth in the SEC East, but gave them just a 2.6 percent chance to win the division.
- ESPN spoke with an anonymous coach who didn’t sound too excited about the Gamecocks’ offensive line: “There are a lot of third-year sophomores, fourth-year juniors that just aren’t SEC players.”
- ESPN’s most likely game to win (using Football Power Index): Western Carolina (98 percent). Least likely: at Clemson (10 percent).
- Phil Steele noted a reason for hope in 2016: South Carolina is 40-10 in its past 50 home games, and the Gamecocks have seven games at Williams-Brice Stadium this season.