Michigan finally has its bowl destination (Outback) and opponent (South Carolina) lined up. In an effort to better introduce you to the Gamecocks of South Carolina, I tell you things you probably already know.
1. South Carolina is a defensive team.
Under the old ball coach these last few years, the Gamecocks have developed into quite the stout defensive team thanks to solid line play. This team is no different. It is in the top 20 in rush yards allowed (119 per game), pass yards allowed (193 per game), total yards allowed (312 per game), and points allowed (17.4 per game). Unlike Michigan, which couldn't generate much of a pass rush, South Carolina was able to get to the quarterback over three times per game (good for fifth nationally) while registering over seven TFLs per game (19th nationally). The Gamecocks were also better at forcing turnovers (22 to just 17 forced for Michigan) which, combined with a lower number of giveaways, means a much better turnover margin (+.25).
However, much like Michigan's defense, there were some rough games. Against Tennessee, South Carolina gave up 35 points in a shootout, and against Florida the Gamecocks gave up 44 points despite holding the Gators to less than 200 yards of offense .
2. When I call a team defensive I also mean "they suck at offense".
Not quite "sucks", but South Carolina wouldn't feel too out of place in the Big Ten. The Gamecocks feature a below average rushing offense (142 yards per game) that had its numbers dragged down by two stinkers in a row vs. LSU and Florida in the middle of the season. Against both teams South Carolina was able to muster a combined 70 yards on 51 carries (ypc: not good).
The passing game led by Connor Shaw is in better hands. The junior quarterback is 15th in the nation in passer efficiency rating, and while South Carolina doesn't pass much (Shaw averages 20 pass attempts per game and the team averages 229 yards per game) that is enough to keep the offense moving.
All in all this team at first glance has a very "Big Ten in 2012" feel to it. Strong defense that leads the way for plodding offense.
3. Marcus Lattimore is both awesome, and injured. He won't play.
(Arguably) The best player on the whole roster is running back Marcus Lattimore. A bonafide NFL draft prospect, a thousand yard rusher as a freshman, and the recipient of two season ending injuries in the last two years. Lattimore went out with an injury perhaps more gruesome than the one that felled Fitz Toussaint, and with him went the Gamecock's best running back.
In his stead Kenny Miles (99 carries, 358 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Mike Davis (52 carries, 275 yards, 2 touchdowns) have gotten time, as well as the fleet footed Shaw (121 carries, 339 yards, 3 touchdowns).
4. Jadeveon Clowney is both awesome and un-injured. Be afraid.
Clowney is a terrifying man. Not even a man, really. He is still 19 and not even halfway through his sophomore year. Still, he is 6'6, 256 lbs., and was the consensus number one player out of high school two years ago. He acclimated to the college game quickly (he registered 8 sacks and 13 TFLs as a true freshman) and this year is a big part of why the Gamecocks have been such a devastating negative play team. Clowney leads his team with 13 sacks and 21.5 TFLs. Both of those numbers rank him second in the nation.
Taylor Lewan and Michael Schofield are going to have their hands full all day with Clowney when these two teams face off.
5. Steve Spurrier's involvement is only going to make this game better.
The old ball coach should provide a few gems in press conferences leading up to this one.
More on the Gamecocks over at Garnet and Black Attack.