A Perfect Storm Is Brewing In Columbia

Photo from Icon SMI

2010 SEC Eastern Division Champions… University of South Carolina Gamecocks. While more beautiful words have never been spoken by the gamecock faithful, 2011 has fans dreaming of more.  Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier has assembled all the necessary pieces to make South Carolina a contender this season.  The Triangle offense of Stephen Garcia, Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery returning give Carolina a chance to have the scariest offense in the nation.  The defense should be strong with Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Defensive End Devin Taylor leading the unit.  Throw in the nations top overall recruit, the very scary and violent Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney, and it seems a perfect storm is brewing in the heart of the Palmetto State.

Coach Spurrier says that his teams compete every year for four championships: the State Championship against Clemson, the SEC Eastern Division, the SEC Championship and the BCS National Championship.  Last year the gamecocks took home two of four.  The hype is building that this may be the year to bring all four back to Williams-Brice Stadium.  Carolina has won the past two State Championships in dominating fashion.  That trend will continue this season with probably an even more dominating showing against Clemson as the game comes back to Sir William.  Clemson’s program seems to be in a tailspin with undercurrents brewing calling for the head of Dabo Swinney.  The state championship will no doubt be the easiest of the four to win.

The Gamecocks hopefully left a bread trail leading them back to the Eastern Division Championship.  Most major contributors are back so the path will be a familiar one.  One of the most exciting feelings for the fans is understanding that it is Carolina’s title to lose. Carolina is the favorite; if the gamecocks just handle their business the East will be theirs again.  This season the other teams will have to conjure up the magic or have lady luck kiss them in order to get past the division champs.  It is a great feeling; embrace the view looking down upon UGA, UT and UF.

Carolina returns to Atlanta with title game experience no longer wide-eyed and bushy tailed.  Arriving will not be good enough, however.  Good luck western counter part trying to slow down Marcus Lattimore in his final campaign push for the Heisman.  The Head Man does what the Head Man does, and that is winning SEC Championships.  Wasn’t it just a matter of time?  The Palmetto night sky never had the stars align more perfectly.  Three for three.

At last, The University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks are playing for the BCS National Championship.  If Carolina winning the SEC seems doable, then why not a National Title?  The SEC Champs are default National Championship game winners in recent years, right?  This is a team loaded with key All-Americans and stacked with All-SEC performers; battle tested in the best football conference in America.  Last year the Eastern Division title was won with freshman and sophomores leading the way.  Pulling a page from the Greek Mythology stories he loves, Stephen “Achilles” Garcia rises up for the final act of his last performance.  He guarantees living forever in Gamecock lore and mends the transgresses of a documented career by leading the team to the Promised Land.

From the beaches of the lowcountry to the mountains of the upstate, excitement and hype has never been greater for the Gamecock Faithful.  Carolina is becoming accustomed to winning championships and standards are being raised.  This team is full of winners who have won at every level.  Winners win, losers go to the ACC.  The Coach Spurrier legend grows and the stadium is renamed.  The dreams that were cast during the Ball Coaches hiring are realized.  Why not Us?

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  • I positively would love to see, yet another, SEC team win the BCS Championship, and if anyone is ready to do it, it’s USC. As long as they don’t lose sight and focus on every game, USC’s D is definitely nasty enough to stop anyone. And, their schedule isn’t exactly the toughest, the only “tough” away games they have will be Georgia, Sept 10, which is sandwich between ECU and Navy (come on, can’t get any easier). The other is Arkansas, Nov.5. That game will be the one to really tell, bc they have 2 prior away games at Tenn and MSU, which both won’t be a slouch. Personally, I think their biggest test will be when FL comes to town. It’ll be there first home game in almost a month, and they’ll be coming off a tough game at Ark. I think they can pull it through, tthey have a relatively easy schedule (for what passes for easy in the SEC) as long as Lattimore is healthy and they D brings their game every weekend, I think USC has a legit chance of going all the way.

  • Biggest difference from 2010 is the easy schedule. SC’s schedule was brutal last year. They played Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas from the west in 2010. They still play Arkansas and Auburn, but obviously Auburn is not the same team. Rather than Alabama, they have Miss State.

    I can see 10-2 and winning the east. Beating an SEC West champ like LSU or Alabama will be difficult, but possible if SC is healthy.

    • I completely agree, the schedule is definitely the biggest difference. On top of that, I see USC as a much more complete ball club this year than last, and MSU, while a worthy opponent, definitely isn’t a Bama or LSU. I can see a 10-2 team winning the East as well, I just think USC will lose two games, if healthy.
      But personally, I still think FL will win the East, however, I think I may be a little-alot biased.

  • It will never happen. I really can’t believe all this talk.

  • I always say as a South Carolina fan I am “pessimistically optimistic.” It’s what 27 years of Gamecock fandom does to you, they love to break our hearts, until last year. I sat at the Alabama game waiting for the bottom to fall out and for us to find some way to let it slip away, but we didn’t! So, I will say I am the most pessimistically optimistic I’ve been ever for this season. Even though we didn’t completely follow through last year, we watched as our team did things we never had seen us do before (i.e., finish the Alabama game). I’ve never seen us have a team like last year, ever.

    We have a tough road, anyone does in the SEC, Arkansas on the road has been historically brutal for us…but h*ll, what’s the point if you don’t think at some point everything has to fit together! I hope the stars align for us and we concentrate ever week and compete!

    Best line of the article, “Winners win, losers go to the ACC.” Love it!

    • “pessimistically optimistic” – I love it.

    • Is that all you can bring up is the Alabama game? I mean you can tell S.C is not use to winning, one good win all year and you guys can let it rest. Every team has there day. When was the last time Sc won a bowl worthy of note?

      • Paul-

        Beyond the Alabama game, a few things I would note from last season: we made plays on offense (i.e., Lattimore’s rushing, Alshon making some incredible grabs, an improved offense line (I know we have to improve there), Lanning made some crucial field goals). Overall, I was meaning we finished a games. Not just one, we finished the season better (our Notorious November)…I know, I know, SEC Championship was a piss poor showing, I walked out after about 5 minutes in the 3rd quarter, and Chick-fil-A, brutal.

        Our defense I think is pretty good. Ellis Johnson has made some major adjustments since Tyrone left…I like to see lay out bodies on the field, and I saw a much more intense defense last year.

        Our last noteworthy bowls wins for our 2 back to back in outback v. osu…early 2000’s. You’d think to I’d learn by know to skip the bowl ;) And no Paul, I would love to come out and run over every team we play, not trying to grovel over that win…alabama was down last year, sec east was way down last year…but we gotta hold on to what we can…we beat Florida, Georgia, Tennessee in the same year (I KNOW, all three teams were wayyy out of normal strength)…this is why I use pessimistically optimistic…almost 2 years of straight losses will do that to you.

        The SEC can only be strengthened by SC getting a better, but hey I’ll still go to games win or lose. In my opinion: South Carolina was a greatly improved club last year w/ a bunch of young cats at that and I think we can be better this season.

  • Im sorry, I have to agree with Paul on this one…and somebody please elaborate for me…what “D”???

    • The “D” with All-SEC CB Stephon Gilmore, #1 prospect Jadaveon Clowney, monster DE Devin Taylor, #1 JUCO DT prospect Kelcy Quarles, 5th year Sr. DT Travian Robertson. LB/DE hybrid sack-master Melvin Ingram, and ultra-experienced LBs Rodney Paulk, Shaq Wilson, and Damario Jeffery.

      USC’s secondary will be the weakest link again this year, but any team without a hog-molly OL will find it very tough to exploit that secondary with so much pressure in their face.

  • It doesn’t take the Oracle at Delphi to observe the Gamecocks’ most recent visit to the Georgia Dome doesn’t portend a national title shot. Are they forgetting their ignominious defeat in the Chick-fil-A Bowl?

    Besides, by writing “Stephen ‘Achilles’ Garcia rises up for the final act of his last performance” Aaron Beasley displays his utter ignorance of “Greek Mythology.”

    Conceded that Achilles was staggeringly drunk when he confronted Agamemnon over Agamemnon’s theft of Briseis, but no one considers that Achilles’ finest hour. I’ll give Beasley that analogy.

    Instead, Achilles’ “kleos” (undying glory, undying fame), The Iliad’s central theme, is derived from Achilles’ battling and defeating the most fearsome of Achaean and Trojan warriors.

    All Achilles does on his “last performance,” is to die, ignominiously, at the hands of the last man imaginable, the last person imaginable, that utter and total wimp, Paris.

    Beasley should have gotten the clue that Paris is a total whussy-boy from the directors’ casting of Orlando Bloom to play Paris.

    The Homeric analogy would be if South Carolina were to defeat Alabama for the SEC championship, then succumb to an otherwise hapless Maine in the BCS Bowl.

    Achilles is a wholly inapt comparison to Stephen Garcia, except, maybe, that part about Agamemnon.

    • I apologize in advance to Maine fans for analogizing their team to Paris.

      • “Achilles” is a playful nickname that was bestowed upon Garcia by the Gamecock fans that frequent the message boards. During his recruitment, it came to light that Stephen admired Achilles (this was about the same time that the movie “Troy” hit theaters) and had something of a collection of swords. OK, so it’s not a perfect metaphor. Chill. Out.

      • Two words you never hear together wonderful and ohio….Just get on any interstate in the South….Ohio…I would wanna get the hell out there too. Might wanna spend a little time thinkin about who is gettin paid to dot the i and less about greek myth. Thanks for the pointless history lesson and to feathered warrior for settin straight. Here is your greek lesson…If Ohio is so great….GO BACK

  • last i heard, garcia wasn’t playing this season.

    did I miss something? is he back? I kind of hope not. I think we’d do better without his hotshot attitude.

  • This article is ridiculous! SC challengin for BCS championship?? Hahaha!! Yeah right! C’mon. Really? Spurrier has done a good job at SC. Esp given their “lack” of tradition, facilities, etc. And yes, they won the East last year, but still lost 5 games & tanked down the stretch as usual. The SEC East is at an all-time low & if the Gamecocks dont win it again this year, thinking they will ever do so &/or become a major player n big-time CFB is a lost cause! Regardless, this IS NOT A NC team! In any way, shape, form or fashion!! LMAO!! Who wrote ths article? Jere Spurrier?

    • I know we lost 5 total games but what you don’t seem to understand is that we only lost 3 regular season games with one of the (if not the) toughest schedules in the nation. What yall don’t seem to get is that we were a young team that accomplished a lot last year. We lost to Auburn twice. Everybody lost to Auburn. I am going to bookmark this page so at the end of the season I can come back to it and then see what yall have to say. I think Garcia will be better than any other quarterback in the SEC this year. The man has done some stupid things, but who hasnt when they were his age. I could only imagine living in Columbia and being the star quarterback (Wow would that be fun.). Garcia has improved every year. If he improves from last year which wasnt to shabby then he will lead us to the prize. Look at the stats of all the quarterbacks in the SEC and tell me how Garcia is such a horrible QB. Ohh and for this last suspension all that did was bring the team closer together and create a bond between Garcia and his teammates. IE: His teammates created a support page called Team Garcia when he was suspeneded for the last incident. Any real man with balls would have got thrown out of a seminare after being ridiculed in front of there teammates. Just as Spurrier has said we don’t deserve credit until we earn it. We have earned the credit that the Gamecocks are not a pushover anymore and that you cannot deny. We now have great players and leadership on the team wich will result in the naysayers sitting there with the “Hush Mouth”……. GAME!

  • Guy’s you lost five freaking games last year…five games!! Give me a break….

  • I’m a die hard gamecock fan & I believe we have the personnel to have a great year but one thing we are lacking more than anything is the attitude. Its way to much of a key player focused team. let one major player go out hurt or sick & the rest of the team goes flat. Last years game against Kentucky proved this. The team as a whole dominated w/ Lattimore leading the way. He got hurt & the team just seemed to loose there steam instead of rallying together & playing even harder for there injured team mate. Some people think I’m crazy but the best team attitude we ever had wasn’t the 10-1 team of 84 but the 0-11 team. They always tried there very best for 60 minutes to improve & get to a point were they could finally win one as a team! If this team, w/ this talent level, had that kind of attitude watch out .On Garcia, he has great stats but you can always tell when he’s done something stupid during the week cause he ends up playing for the other team more than us that weekend. for example 5 pics in the bowl game & he was found to have done something wrong yet again prior to that game. We need a 3 strikes & your gone I don’t care if your good enough to make Lattimore look like a bench warmer (If that even humanly possible) It’s bad for the player, the team, the university, & should not be tolerated period. If its 1st offense w/ alcohol attend AA meetings 2ed AA meetings & take the rest of the season off. 3rd & you loose the scholarship so pay your own way or go home.