South Carolina improved yet again in Will Muschamp’s second season in charge and while surpassing nine wins may be tough in 2018, this team should be just as good. The Gamecocks finished SEC play with a 5-3 record last year and are expected to be in a race for second in the East behind Georgia this season and have +30000 spring odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) to win the National Championship, placing them behind Missouri and Florida.
The offense, which struggled to 24.2 points per Game, has a new coordinator in former wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon and he did a nice job in the bowl win against Michigan. If the offense improves and the defense stays at the same level (20.8 points per Game allowed), this team will be a pain for most on its Schedule.
Jake Bentley didn’t have the greatest stats last season (7.09 yards per attempt, 18 TDs, 12 INTs), but he’s still a junior that has a ton of experience under center and one that should keep this offense improving. The talent around him is never-ending with Ty’Son Williams (471 yards) and Rico Dowdle still in the backfield, while top wide out Deebo Samuel is returning from an injury to go with 2017’s leader Bryan Edwards (64 receptions, 793 TDs). The line loses a couple starters, but there are six returning guys that have had multiple starts and most reports from the spring have this group as being one of the most improved. That should help a ton after South Carolina ran for only 3.9 yards per carry as a team.
Defense is the bigger question for the Gamecocks, although it was hard to get a good read on it in the spring due to injuries across the unit. The biggest loss is stud linebacker Skai Moore, but three other starters are gone in the secondary as well as a few key guys up front. The line has mixed a few things up with sack leader D.J. Wonnum playing different positions up front and he’ll be needed for another big season. Linebacker at least has experience with Bryson Allen-Williams and T.J. Brunson, but safety lost two starters. In the spring, Muschamp made clear he was only comfortable with one guy, safety Steven Montac, which is never a good sign.
The Gamecocks could have some early trouble with their pass defense and it doesn’t help that they have to play Georgia in the second week of the season. While they want to contend with the Bulldogs at the top, that may not be possible if they lose that one early. From there, they have a nice draw of getting A&M and Ole Miss from the West and that’s as good as it gets. Still, the odds are long for them to reach nine wins in the regular season with the trip to Clemson in the finale. To get to nine, South Carolina will have to steal a Game or two on the road with Games at Vandy and Kentucky being the most likely. The Gamecocks have the talent to place second again, but the defense has some questions to answer before this team can contend with Georgia at the top of the SEC East.
2018 South Carolina Gamecocks Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Coastal Carolina
Sept. 8 vs. Georgia
Sept. 15 vs. Marshall
Sept. 22 at Vanderbilt
Sept. 29 at Kentucky
Oct. 6 vs. Missouri
Oct. 13 vs. Texas A&M
Oct. 27 vs. Tennessee
Nov. 3 at Ole Miss
Nov. 10 at Florida
Nov. 17 vs. Chattanooga
Nov. 24 at Clemson