Morning Meeting: Predicting the season game-by-game

Posted by Josh Kendall on August 25, 2014 

An 85-foot banner of Steve Spurrier was raised Saturday on the west side of Williams-Brice Stadium – a week after workers posted a new garnet sign with the school’s logo from the top. The portrait of Spurrier on the sideline, headset on and playsheet in hand, stares across Gamecock Park and Bluff Road.

C MICHAEL BERGEN — mbergen@thestate.com

     It’s game week, so let’s get down to the good stuff. The question I got all summer was this: “How will the Gamecocks do this year?” I’ve put some thought into it, and here’s my answer:

Texas A&M
    The notion that this will be a South Carolina blowout is perplexing. The Aggies lost Johnny Manziel and two other first round NFL draft picks, yes, but they’ve stacked up three top 15 recruiting classes in a row. The Gamecocks will survive, but the nation will be talking about Aggies freshman Speedy Noil after the game. South Carolina 42, Texas A&M 34

East Carolina
    The Pirates and quarterback Shane Carden will prove how much better they are than Purdue and Illinois (you remember that kerfuffle from a few weeks ago, right?) when they come to Williams-Brice. Lorenzo Ward will need more antacid, but the Gamecocks will face Georgia unbeaten. South Carolina 31, East Carolina 27

Georgia
    The last time Georgia came to Columbia, it was embarrassed 35-7. Some Bulldogs have predicted that won’t happen again, and they’re almost certainly right. The Gamecocks defense will be the question mark headed into the game but will hold on (barely). South Carolina 27, Georgia 24

Vanderbilt
    The Commodores are coming off back-to-back, nine-win seasons and are transitioning to a power offense under former Stanford assistant Derek Mason. The switch will take time. South Carolina 24, Vanderbilt 9

Missouri
    The Tigers have had this game circled for almost a year, and sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk will be flying high coming to Williams-Brice, having feasted on four out-of-conference opponents coming into this game. He’ll stay on a roll. Missouri 31, South Carolina 21

Kentucky
    The Gamecocks might be facing quarterback Drew Barker, who at one point looked like he’d play for South Carolina before the Wildcat coaching staff sold the hometown kid on resurrecting Kentucky football. Barker could be the real deal, people say, but it won’t happen this year. South Carolina 38, Kentucky 20

Furman
    Not much to see here with Auburn up next. South Carolina 41, Furman 18

Auburn
    The Tigers won’t be as lucky as they were last year, but they might be a better football team. Worried about quarterback Nick Marshall? Bold prediction of the day: Jeremy Johnson will have taken over the starting job by this game. Either way, Tigers running game will overwhelm thin South Carolina defensive line. Auburn 30, South Carolina 28

Tennessee
    Missouri will have had its revenge on South Carolina by this point. This week will be Gamecocks’ turn to wipe away a bad memory. Volunteers will come into the game as the (freshman running back) Jalen Hurd Show but with not much else. South Carolina 45, Tennessee 20

Florida
    The over/under on fan signs begging Steve Spurrier to take his old job back at this game is 50. The Gators will be deep into what is a critical season for Will Muschamp, and if this game doesn’t go well, it might mean new coach time in Gainesville. South Carolina 21, Florida 6

South Alabama
    It’s not an off week before Clemson, but it might as well be. South Carolina 55, South Alabama 21

Clemson
    The Tigers have to win one eventually, right? Right. This is the one. Deshaun Watson will be a popular fellow by this point. Clemson 24, South Carolina 23
   
Around the SEC:

    Leave it to Ellis Johnson to shoot straight. The former South Carolina and current Auburn defensive coordinator doesn’t like opening the season against an SEC team, as his Tigers will do.

    "I don't like it because it's so unpredictable in opening games, but that's the way it is," Johnson told AL.com. "If I could pick the schedule, I'd rather open up with an out-of-conference team.”

    All we’ve talked about is Texas A&M’s passing game, but the Aggies plan to keep some pressure off new quarterback Kenny Hill with a three-pronged rushing attack.
   
    “The quarterback doesn’t have to go out there and win the game if you have an experienced line and running backs,” offensive coordinator Jake Spavital told the Dallas Morning News. “You’re able to feel comfortable with them … where you’re not telling the quarterback ‘go out there and beat South Carolina [on your own],’ the first game.”

    I was lucky enough to know Dan Magill personally. I wish everyone could have. The man, a Georgia legend, was an absolute treasure who shaped Lewis Grizzard’s career and shaped almost all things Bulldog that people know today. He died this weekend at age 93. I sure will miss him.

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