Bradley’s Buzz: Someone else likes South Carolina in 2010

"Don't despair, Steve! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"Don't despair, Steverino! I like your chances next time." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

It’s not yet Valentine’s Day, so this is subject to change, but the leader in the clubhouse for post that has peeved the most folks in 2010 is the one where I dared to suggest South Carolina might be poised for a better football season than the Georgia-based SEC representative.

I got the usual dismissive response — “Bradley, you’re just trolling for a reaction” — but I really wasn’t. I actually believe South Carolina is poised for a better season. And now, from Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com’s Insiders, comes something in the way of corroborating testimony. Feldman lists South Carolina as the No. 1 team being overlooked for 2010. (Link requires registration.) His rationale:

“If the Gamecocks don’t come up with that clunker in the bowl game, I suspect they’re preseason top 20, but let’s not overreact too much to that game. QB Stephen Garcia did make some nice strides in 2009, and Carolina does return 19 of 22 starters. Better still, it just landed a potential impact freshman in RB Marcus Lattimore, who could — and should — do wonders for the SEC’s worst rushing game. Those reasons have me thinking this should be Steve Spurrier’s best Carolina team yet, although that’s probably not saying all that much. New O-line coach Shawn Elliott needs to bolster the group up front (they did surrender 36 sacks last season). The schedule also breaks fairly well with Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas all having to visit Columbia this year. The two toughest SEC road games: at Florida and at Auburn.”

Understand: I’m a Gamecock skeptic of long standing. I got much grief from the Palmetto State when, back in 2007, I agreed with Lee Corso that Spurrier would never win the SEC while working in Columbia. (And then, as is invariably the case with me, Spurrier and Carolina beat Georgia in Athens.) But I do think there’s a stability with the other USC that isn’t present anywhere else in the SEC East save Vanderbilt. And I think that stability will count for something this fall.

Would I pick Carolina to win the East? Nope. Even with the players and coaches Florida has lost, I’d take the Gators. And I think Georgia could have a nice rebound year and maybe even go 9-3. But I think the Gamecocks could likewise go 9-3 and beat the Bulldogs at Williams-Brice on Sept. 11. (That will be the first road start for whoever is Georgia’s quarterback.)

I know, I know. South Carolina always promises much and delivers much less. I’m fully aware of the Chicken Curse. But this one time, I could see the Gamecocks finishing (slightly) ahead of Georgia. This one time.

Then again, I liked the Colts over the Saints. And Texas over Alabama. And Tech over Georgia in basketball. And Tech over Georgia in football. And …

164 comments Add your comment

dawglover

February 10th, 2010
1:26 pm

dawglover

February 10th, 2010
1:28 pm

My first first and I even read the article. Was having a crummy day til now. Had to lay off a relative. The holidays will be a little strained this year.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
1:29 pm

Kudos, Dawglover. Hope this brightens up the day.

La Jolla Dawg

February 10th, 2010
1:32 pm

I think you meant to say the Gamecocks, not the, “Gators could likewise go 9-3 and beat the Bulldogs at Williams-Brice on Sept. 11..

HTF

February 10th, 2010
1:33 pm

Marcus Lattimore for Heisman. He’s going to be the first ever 4 time Heisman winner. I can feel it. This is our year!

UGA 2010

February 10th, 2010
1:33 pm

Good point Mark, jus as long as you dont say UGA will go all the way im happy, oh, AND THANKS FOR A GOOD ARTICLE. Seems hard to come by these days. slow in the sports world

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 10th, 2010
1:34 pm

I hate to agree but I also think the best the DAWGS will do next year is 3rd , I will for one just be looking for improved coaching on both sides of the ball ,but I do not expect a big year 8 or 9 wins maybe. which is not that far from a big season 10 being a big year .

La Jolla Dawg

February 10th, 2010
1:35 pm

There’s a typo here Mark. You wrote “Gators” could go 9-3 when you meant Gamecocks. Probably because you don’t really mean it. ;-)

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
1:36 pm

I did, La Jolla. Thanks.

CowetaDawg

February 10th, 2010
1:36 pm

USC’s gonna have to fix that O-Line before they even think of having a running game. I’ll take Caleb King & Wayshaun Ealy over Lattimore any day. If UGA runs the ball well, which I think they will w/ no Matthews or Norwood, UGA could win this bigger than “experts” think.

La Jolla Dawg

February 10th, 2010
1:36 pm

Oops, posted twice. Sorry, didn’t think it went through the first time. Not rubbing it in, promise.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
1:37 pm

Got caught up in the spam filter, La Jolla. That happens sometimes when South Carolina’s nickname is invoked.

NoGaGator

February 10th, 2010
1:37 pm

Mark, I agree with you. Biggest problem for USC is that they consistently fade down the stretch, possibly due to lack of depth when the inevitable injuries pile up. They play strong at the beginning of the year (ex. UGA) but at the end, not so much (ex. UF). They need to stay relatively healthy for your prediction to happen.

devildawg

February 10th, 2010
1:38 pm

Thats it, Mark. Pick SC and Florida, please. We have all seen how your picks have gone this year, straight into the toilet. Just don’t pick the Dawgs and we will be fine. Give your kiss of death to someone else.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 10th, 2010
1:39 pm

Hey I was in the top ten posters on this one. my work day is complete I will spend the rest of the day at the water cooler bragging.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
1:39 pm

You’d be a rich person if all you’d done was bet against South Carolina over the years. But I do like the look of this team more than I’ve liked any Carolina team … gee, I don’t know … maybe ever.

AndyC

February 10th, 2010
1:40 pm

While I do disagree with Mark often, I will agree that the Sept. 11 game in Columbia is a very dangerous game. The dawgs will be playing a very young and inexperienced QB on the road in an unfriendly environment.

Mark Bradley

February 10th, 2010
1:40 pm

Then again, a lot can happen between now and Sept. 11. The game is seven months and one day away.

sky high

February 10th, 2010
1:40 pm

South Carolina has a shot because they have the 3rd best defensive staff in the SEC, right behind Bama and Georgia. Defense wins championships in the SEC. South Carolina will beat Florida because Florida’s defensive staff is so anemic (so will Georgia, LSU & Bama) and the loss of 11 starters.

Disagree with you about Florida–down year for them, 8-5 if they’re lucky (Lose 5 of these 7 games: FSU, Miss St, Tenn, UGA, Bama, LSU, South Carolina) . Their defensive staff is #8 in the SEC. Chuck Heater? Come on man.

Disagree about Georgia. Georgia will win the East this year with defense and win the SEC Championship. UGA is #1 in the SEC EAST defensive staff-wise BY A MILE.

Bama lost 9 defensive players in 2009, so they’ll go 9-3 in 2010.

DC Braves Fan

February 10th, 2010
1:41 pm

Good grief, Mark. Feldman says the Gamecoks have a favorable schedule because Bama is coming to Columbia? A favorable schedule wouldn’t have Bama on it. The Gamecocks may play the three toughest SEC West teams next year (reasonable minds can disagree about whether LSU belongs in that group, but let’s just say that I see them heading in the wrong direction). Maybe if MSU was coming to Columbia, that would be a favorable schedule. They won’t beat Auburn or Florida on the road, and what is the likelihood that they’ll do better than .500 against Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas? And that assumes they don’t slip up against Vandy or UK.

Whatever you think of Georgia, I’m not sure how one can elevate SC to contender status with that schedule. They are certain to lose 4 games, and that won’t win them any trips to Atlanta other than perhaps the Chic-Fil-A Bowl.

devildawg

February 10th, 2010
1:43 pm

Whatever sky high is smoking, pass that on over here.

NC Dawg

February 10th, 2010
1:43 pm

The Dawg’s defense will win the game in Columbia.

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 10th, 2010
1:46 pm

I am happy about the Dawg’s new defensive staff also but still worried about not having the personal to man it properly in the first year , that along with a brand new QB and its hard to have the high hopes.

Dawg Tired

February 10th, 2010
1:47 pm

Mark – You may be right about all this. The biggest if to me is whether Spurrier is really into the whole thing. He seems to not have nearly the energy or passion he had at Florida.

Brewdawg

February 10th, 2010
1:49 pm

I just cant wait to see spurrier throw his visor. My favorite part of the SC games…..

Mike S

February 10th, 2010
1:50 pm

Sort of like Chris berman predicting a Buffalo-San Francisco superbowl ever single season, keep predicting it every year and some day (NOT 2010 THOUGH) you will be correct.

So, today wust end in Y since both Bradley and Shultz are taking shots at UGA.

Pretty interesting that for a team nobody cares about because they are in a downcycle with no end in site all anyone on AJC seems to care about is UGA UGA UGA UGA.

Carolina Cream Pie

February 10th, 2010
1:50 pm

I like South Carolina for vacation, but it really isn’t good for anything else.

Football?

BWAH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sky high

February 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

UGA has excellent defensive talent (#5 on rivals at DL, DE, and #11 at DB). But it’s the defensive staff that’s so much better than East competitors. UGA is #1 in the SEC in quality of defensive staff.

QB? Looking great there too.
Aron Murray- 5000 yards of offense, 63 td’s 2 state championships, 56 college scholarships offered. Parade Al-American
Hutson Mason- 4500 yards of offense, 55 td’s, Parade All-American
Logan and Zach–Both top ranked QB’s coming out of High School.

Oklahoma and Miami both won a National Championship with a Freshman QB.

SSIgator

February 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

sky high -

UGA win the East? Do you have the Kool Aid on an IV drip?

winterville

February 10th, 2010
1:52 pm

If the Saints can win a Super Bowl then certainly some day South Carolina is going to break through and win the SEC. Someday!

SSIgator

February 10th, 2010
1:56 pm

Again this year we get to hear SOS say “It was only UGA, not like we beat a football powerhouse”.

sky high

February 10th, 2010
1:58 pm

I think UGA just picked up the defensive back coach that helped shut down South Carolina in the Bowl game, Scott Lakotas?

Good news for Georgia, bad news for South Carolina.

The Lone Trumpeter

February 10th, 2010
1:59 pm

Carolina will be good, but not great. The same offensive line returns, and sometimes that is not a good thing. They do have a new o-line coach, but does he have the horses? Their season and ours boils down to the game in columbia next year. Winner gets off to a great start, while the loser has to rebound and fight back from the first sec loss.

Dawg Trainer

February 10th, 2010
1:59 pm

I can see the Disney version of USC winning the East now:

Someday, the ‘Cocks will come…

To Atlanta, that is. Won’t be in 2010 though!

Heavy Dawg

February 10th, 2010
1:59 pm

sky high is high. DAWGS don’t have the best defensive staff in SEC. Alabama does. Unless he was against hiring Smart from them.

Brewdawg

February 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

Great, another annoying FL fan on a UGA blog. Get a freaking life man!!!!!

Go Dawgs!

SSIgator

February 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

Or the other SOS quote “UGA always gets all of these 4&5 star players. I wonder what happens to them up there.”

SOUTH GA DAWG FAN

February 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

hoping you are right sky high
GO DAWGS !!!!!!!!!!

The Lone Trumpeter

February 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

sky high- good point.

Jimmy Sessions

February 10th, 2010
2:00 pm

USC has the talent,but if they don’t correct their usual mistakes(offsides,too much time,OL not blocking,and lack of passion in some games)it will be another 6-6 or 7-5 year.HOWEVER,if these mistakes are corrected;I see the gamecocks going 9-3 and 2nd in the east.

DAWGS BETTER IN 2010

February 10th, 2010
2:01 pm

Georgia’s record 10-2 and South Carolina same as years past 7-5 maybe 9-4.Florida and Alabama struggle some next year,LSU vs Georgia in SEC chanpionship game.

Ditto from a Gawga man

February 10th, 2010
2:02 pm

In the SEC usually, a solid, senior QB can carry the team, unless his name is Jumpin Joe Cox. TG and Greyhound that he is Gone. Garcia OUGHT to perform well with SS’s input. That kid has some issues but maybe he has matured. He is talented and he is why I say ditto.

If SC has the tough D vs UGA like always …………the game for UGA could be a rough one, especially with our new QBs. On the other hand with our new?? improved running game and more seasoned o line and our depth, we could prevail. The UGA QBs will have to be ready.

This game might be a wild one.

Go Dogs.

winterville

February 10th, 2010
2:02 pm

Does SSI stand for Steve’s Surly Idiot?

Dawg Trainer

February 10th, 2010
2:02 pm

I KNEW that post wouldn’t make it past the filter. But it was witty, if I say so myself…

sky high

February 10th, 2010
2:03 pm

South Carolina’s O-lINE can’t pass protect (36 sacks–geez–worse than Tebow and that’s bad) and can’t run block.

Georgia’s 2 backs and Branden Smith will outrun anyone in the SEC.

Big B CH 99

February 10th, 2010
2:04 pm

I’m a tech fan, but as a football junky, I think that if the Ol’ Ball Coach is ever gonna take S. Car. to Atlanta, then this next yr is the yr. I think Florida is gonna be down next yr, they’re replacing Tebow and a lot from their NFL-level Defense. I think Derek Dooley will do good in Tenn, but next yr is a re-building yr. I expect UGA to be better, but i don’t know how much, they will have a great Running game & Green/Charles, but a young QB will make mistakes. I expect their D to be better, but I don’t see them going from in terms of national rankings a middle of the pack (50s – 60s) to top 20 D. I think that a team w/ a really good D that can shut down the run will have a good chance against UGA.

sky high

February 10th, 2010
2:05 pm

Grantham is the guy that’s been coming in for years to TRAIN BAMA.

Grantham is the guy Nick Saban tried to hire to run his defense. Saban thought Grantham was more qualified to run his defense than him.

Muschamp, Foster, Smart all recommended Richt hire Grantham.

Hootie Bookems

February 10th, 2010
2:09 pm

I was told the other day that 2010 is the year of the Gamecock on the Chinese calendar. That’s funny I thought the year of the Gamecock was always “next year.”

WonderDawg

February 10th, 2010
2:10 pm

Thanks, Mark. Now I can start saving my money to put a big wad on UGA, Sept 11. You know, if gambling was legal …

SSIgator

February 10th, 2010
2:13 pm

Yawn. Some things never change. UGA fans before the season “This is our year. Great players, coaches, blah, blah, blah.” UGA fans after the season “Just wait until next year. Great palyers coming in, will be pre-season #1, a new energy, blah blah, blah.” As Clinton would say “It’s the coaching stupid.”