Preview: Week 1 - UNC Part 1

With the first game of the season just over three weeks away, the excitement of Gamecock football returning is nearing its peak. With only three practices in the books, there are still a lot of questions to be answered concerning position battles, roles certain players will fulfill and what young freshman may have an immediate impact. All of these questions will be answered soon enough and we will have a general idea of what the 2013 Gamecock football team will look like.

As August 29th nears, we will now take a look at what may be expected when the Gamecocks take on the Tarheels of North Carolina.

 Key Matchups

Defensive Line VS Offensive Line:  This will most likely be the reason 90% of America will tune in to our Thursday night game, just to get a look at that guy who wears a #7 on the front and back of his jersey. With all of the national hype following Clowney, there will be plenty for people to talk about leading up to the game and during the game. Left Tackle James Hurst for the Tarheels will have his hands full with Clowney coming off the edge and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Hurst has plenty of help to try and contain Clowney throughout the game. This should allow other guys such as Chaz Sutton, Kelcy Quarles and company to be in a ton of one on one situation’s. Look for what some have listed as one of the top defensive lines in the country to dominate in the trenches, with UNC losing two offensive line starters to the NFL.
Edge: Gamecocks

Gamecock Secondary vs Tarheel WR’s: Quinshad Davis and Eric Ebron will be the Tarheels top two WR’s heading into the 2013 season, combining for 1,401 yards and 9 TD’s. Ebron, the 6’4 245 pound TE was a reliable option for QB Brynn Renner last season and with Giovanni Bernard departed, I would expect Ebron to play an even bigger role in the “check down” department. Erik Highsmith is another departed Tarheel that pulled in 54 receptions, 587 yards and 5 TD’s. The Tarheels will have to fill a few voids throughout the receiving group and mainly rely on Davis and Ebron, but with an established QB in Brynn Renner with NFL potential the Gamecock secondary must be on top of their game. I expect the secondary to prevail for the Gamecocks and hold Renner under 200 yards passing.
Edge: Gamecocks

Quaterbacks: Heading into the season South Carolina may very well have the most dynamic duo at the QB position in the country. Both Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson are slated to see plenty of playing time this year and should give defensive coordinators fits. Connor Shaw is said to be 100% for the first time since stepping on campus and according to the coaching staff will be the starter going into the season. We all got a glimpse of what Dylan Thompson can do last year and IMO Dylan will be one of the most important pieces to the team down the stretch.  The HBC has suggested both QB’s will be on the field at the same time this season at different times, which should be a “head scratcher” for defenses, lining Shaw up in the back field and at WR in different packages.

On the other side you have Brynn Renner for the Tarheels. Renner is projected to be a first round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and is also on the watch list for both the Maxwell Award, which is given to the best player in the country as well as the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s best quarterback. Last season Renner attempted 422 passes completing nearly 65% of them, while throwing for 3356 yards and 28 TD’s and only 7 INT’s, which was the lowest of any eligible FBS QB.
Edge: Tarheels

The season cannot get here soon enough Gamecock fans!! Stay tuned for part 2 of our week 1 preview.

Go Cocks!

Ryan Hood