Oct 1, 2011; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Bruce Ellington (23). Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels vs. The South Carolina Gamecocks


The South Carolina Gamecocks start off their 2013 campaign against the Tar Heels from the University of North Carolina.  Many South Carolina fans are immediately discounting the Tar Heels and feel that this game will not be much of a contest.   However, North Carolina will be making the trip to Columbia seeking revenge after the Gamecocks won a narrow contest in 2007.

While there is no comparison in terms of the coaches in this matchup, Larry Fedora did surprisingly well in his first year with the Tar Heels.  A midst Fedora’s introduction to the spread offense, the Tar Heels were able to finish the 2013 season with an 8-4 record.  Behind the arm of All-ACC Quarterback Ryan Brenner and the great set of hands on Quinshad Davis, the Tar Heels look to put points on the board and pressure on their opponents this season.

The Tar Heel offense will have some bright spots, but will have a shaky foundation due to the lack of their offensive line.  North Carolina had a more than serviceable offensive line in 2012.  However, after graduation and the NFL Draft, Fedora will be turning to a group of youngsters to attempt and be the anchor for an offense that is growing.

Not only will North Carolina’s offensive line come in under suspicion, the defensive line will be in the same position in what was already a weak point for the Tar Heels in 2012.  If the Tar Heels can continue to grow in the 4-2-5 set that Fedora and his coaching staff have turned to, then the Tar Heels might be able to make a few stands.

Looking forward for the Gamecocks, this opener should be exciting.  The Gamecocks boast back-to-back eleven win seasons and are looking to continue their recent success in 2013 with a win over North Carolina.  Behind Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks should be more than confident in their abilities to take their winning ways to the next level in 2013.  Beating the Tar Heels will be the first step in the right direction for the Gamecocks.

Quarterbacks Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will be sharing minutes for the majority of the games this season.  The good news is that both quarterbacks are winners and have been leading the Gamecock offense to new heights in recent years.  Shaw and Thompson will have a nice stable of receivers around them, even after the exodus of big-time playmaker Ace Sanders.  Damiere Byrd, Bruce Ellington, and Shaq Rowland will be forced to step up and make plays for the Gamecock offense and will more than likely do so in this game.

Since the Marcus Lattimore era has officially ended, the Gamecocks will be running by committee for most of the year.  The chairman of this committee will be sophomore running back Mike Davis.  Davis has great speed and good strength much like Lattimore.  If you have seen Davis play, you know that if he breaks loose the results are exciting.  During the spring game, Gamecock fans were able to get just a taste of the improvements that Davis has been making in the off season.  Those improvements should ease the concerns of South Carolina faithful and let them know the running game will be just fine.

The final piece to the Gamecock’s puzzle will be the defensive line.  The Gamecocks have had some of the best defensive lines in all of college football over the past three years.  With Clowney leading the way and Chaz Sutton joining up with Kelcey Quarles, the South Carolina defensive line will pick up where it left off in the 2012 season.  The experienced and freakishly athletic defensive line should be able to pick apart in inexperienced offensive line of the Tar Heels and force them to make a lot of mistakes.

Finally, the outcome.  The Gamecocks should be able to start off their year with a victory over the visiting Tar Heels.  While the game will more than likely be a battle early on, look for the real Carolina to take over the second half and walk away victorious.  South Carolina wins this one 31-17.

Tags: Ace Sanders Bruce Ellington Connor Shaw Damiere Byrd Dylan Thompson Featured Jadeveon Cloweny Marcus Lattimore Mike Davis North Carolina Popular South Carolina Gamecocks South Carolina Gamecocks Football Steve Spurrier