Returning Starters on Defense – 4 There is only one senior on the entire two-deep chart so South Carolina will experience a lot of growing pains early on in the season. Gone are the top seven tacklers but defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix, who will be in his first full season, is confident that the unit won’t digress. The defensive line struggled stopping the run last season but spring drills brought out the best from the front four and they should improve on their 85th ranking against the run. The linebackers all need to be replaced but JUCO transfers and twin brothers Jasper and Casper Brinkley are expect to make huge impacts right away. The secondary was the strength a season ago and while the cornerbacks will be solid once again, the two safety positions are a concern.
Schedule The schedule is both top and bottom heavy with the biggest breaks coming in the middle of the season. The Gamecocks head right into conference action out of the gate as they travel to Mississippi St. to open the season before hosting Georgia the following week. Two straight non-conference games are next at home against Wofford and Florida Atlantic before another SEC test with Auburn coming to town. The next four games provide somewhat of a break with games at Kentucky and Vanderbilt followed by home games against Tennessee and Arkansas. The much anticipated trip to Florida and the season finale at Clemson are sandwiched around a home game against Middle Tennessee to close out the season. The best part about the slate is that LSU and Alabama are absent.