The South Carolina Gamecocks have only made one trip to the SEC championship in school history, back in 2010, and have never won the conference.
South Carolina has had the talent to win the SEC East over the past few years but have stumbled on their way to Atlanta. Here are the five major roadblocks keeping the Gamecocks from becoming kings of the SEC in 2014:
5. Quarterback Depth
Dylan Thompson is the unquestioned starter, but if the redshirt senior goes down there aren’t any proven options behind him. Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch have never started a game in college and have had very limited playing time. Thompson has been a capable spot starter and backup off the bench, but can he lead the Gamecocks for an entire season?
The winner of South Carolina/Georgia hasn’t advanced to the SEC title game since 2010, but this is a monumental matchup in the division and can easily put the loser behind the eight-ball. The Gamecock fell to the Bulldogs in Athens last season and will be looking for revenge this year in Columbia, where South Carolina hammered Georgia by 28 points in 2012.
3. Defensive Youth
There were only three seniors on South Carolina’s projected starting defense in the spring and the Gamecocks will need some of their younger players to step up this season. Darius English and Gerald Dixon will be counted on to provide consistent play at the defensive end position. South Carolina’s linebackers are talented, but still relatively young.
With the exception of the two knee injuries to Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina has been able to avoid bad injuries to key players. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, their depth at running back and talent on offense kept the 2011 and 2012 seasons on track. However, South Carolina will be better off this season if all their key players are healthy.
Even if the Gamecocks do make it to the conference title game, they will have to play someone from the SEC West. Alabama has been one of college football’s premier dynasties, Auburn is coming off a trip to the national championship, and LSU is one of the country’s best teams year in and year out. In order for the Gamecocks to become kings of the SEC, they’ll have to take down an incredibly talented Western division opponent.