Dowdle running toward strong sophomore campaign

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Despite not being fully healthy in 2016, freshman RB Rico Dowdle led the Gamecocks in rushing with 764 yards — a punishing 5.7 yards per carry.

RELATED: Rico Dowdle looks to build on strong start to promising career

With the arrival of Dowdle in the backfield, the once-sputtering USC offense had new legs, both literally and figuratively. The ground attack gave freshman QB Jake Bentley more room to read defenses and spread the ball around.

As the Asheville, N.C., native enters his second year in the program, he recognizes the position demands more than just running the ball …

“A goal I set for the spring is better pass protection, which comes with better knowledge of the game and knowing exactly where to be, so that’s my goal,” he said. “And just staying healthy, treat my body right throughout the spring, trying to be good up until April 1 and maintain that to the season.”

With a 100 percent Dowdle, fellow rising sophomore A.J. Turner and the addition of UNC transfer Ty’Son Williams,  the Gamecocks could boast of the SEC’s most potent running back corps in 2017.

Expert picks for South Carolina vs. Marquette

How are the experts feeling about the Gamecocks’ chances against the Golden Eagles on Friday? It’s a mixed bag …

CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish is taking Marquette straight up.

“South Carolina is 3-6 in its past nine games with two losses to Alabama and one to Ole Miss,” Parrish writes. “Simply put, I believe the wrong team is favored in this game.”

As noted earlier this week, the Sports Illustrated panel doesn’t have a lot of faith in the Gamecocks. Of SI’s 12 brackets, only three (Dan Greene, Stewart Mandel, Michael Rosenberg) have the Gamecocks making it to the second round.

 

Gamecocks take part in open practice

As the Gamecocks prepare for their first NCAA Tournament game since 2004, they took the floor at Bon Secours Arena in Greenville to much fanfare on Thursday afternoon …

RELATED: Gamecocks soaking in NCAA Tournament experience in Greenville

Not only are the Gamecocks looking for their first tournament win since 1973, they get to do it in their home state. What a time to be a Carolina fan.

Frank Martin on NCAA winless streak

You read that correctly. South Carolina hasn’t won a tournament game in 44 years.

That fact isn’t lost on Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin …

Martin continued on that a win for the Gamecocks wouldn’t do much for him personally, “but for all those former guys and our administrators and former coaches that sacrificed,” via Spurs & Feathers.

Return of the Mack

South Carolina basketball-Tevin Mack
Is Tevin Mack the Gamecocks’ next homegrown star? (Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Former 4-star prospect Tevin Mack is on the move.

RELATED: Former Texas basketball player considering SEC schools, among others

Moving on from Texas, the Columbia native is looking to transfer somewhere closer to home. Hmm, I can think of a big-time program in the Columbia area that could use him …

“Georgia, Florida and South Carolina all received consideration from Mack, before he settled on playing for (Shaka) Smart. Clemson and UConn were also factors,” Hale McGranahan reported. “Paula Mack, his mother, told Phil Kornblut that all have been in contact since the transfer was announced. East Carolina, Florida State, Wake Forest and DePaul are also interested.”

Former USC TE signs with Raiders

It was reported on Thursday that Gamecocks TE Jared Cook will sign with the Oakland Raiders.

RELATED: Former Gamecocks TE Jared Cook to sign with Raiders

The free agent pass catcher caused quite a stir as a free agent — coming off a spectacular season with the Green Bay Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers. Cook was outstanding in the playoffs, snagging 18 balls for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Cook is the fourth former South Carolina player to sign a lucrative contract in the offseason, joining CB Stephon Gilmore, LB Melvin Ingram and WR Alshon Jeffrey.

In case you missed it

March Madness motivation

Just substitute any mention of “Ducks” with “Gamecocks” and you’ll get the gist of it …

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