South Carolina seemingly overachieved during Will Muschamp’s first season as coach in Columbia, winning six games and making a bowl game with a roster that was both young and not exactly deep.
Coming into 2017, the Gamecocks will look to make giant strides as a team and hopefully contend in the SEC East. They already have one believer in SEC Nation co-host Marcus Spears.
“From a skill-position standpoint, they have one of the best teams in the conference,” Spears told TheState.com at SEC Media Days on Tuesday.
It all starts with quarterback Jake Bentley, who took over the starting job halfway through last season and expects to improve on a freshman season in which he threw for 1,420 yards and 9 touchdowns.
“I think Jake Bentley is going to be a stud. I think he’s going to be very good. [He’s a] coach’s son. [He] knows the game. [He] has as a little bit of athletic ability where he can get out of the pocket. [He] can sling it. And then he’s slinging it to Bryan Edwards. He’s slinging it to Deebo Samuel.
“Jake Bentley has the type of talent to be, if not the best, the top two or three quarterbacks in the conference.”
While Spears is confident that the offense will do its job, stating that it should be able to put up “probably 28 [points] a game,” it is the defensive side of the ball that concerns him.
“Will [Muschamp] will put those guys in a position where they are not overexposed, but we know in this conference you are going to have to stop people.”
Another asset for the Gamecocks will be its home crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium, a place that Spears said will not be friendly to opponents.
“You’re not going to go into Columbia with a guaranteed victory. You are going to have to play really good defense in order to stop them from doing what they want to do offensively.”
If all starts to gel for the Gamecocks, a trip to the SEC Championship Game might not be too far away.