The Daily Gamecock

Let's be realistic: Best and worst case scenarios for Gamecock football


It’s time to be realistic. This won’t be one of those, “My school is going to win the National Championship, I’m sure of it" pieces. This article will look at the best and worst-case scenarios for South Carolina in 2015.

A new defensive scheme, new quarterback and the second-toughest schedule in the country headline the 2015 season for the Gamecocks. Frankly we won’t know a whole lot about this team until a few weeks into the season. Still, there is potential — which is more than some teams have.

Best Case Scenario

Record: 10-2

How? Junior wide receiver Pharoh Cooper puts up Heisman-esque numbers, the offensive line bullies opposing defenses, Connor Mitch turns out to be all he was in high school and more, the defensive line puts pressure on the quarterback and the secondary plays to their full potential and beyond.

Likelihood: <5 percent

What if? The defense could be substantially better if co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke’s zone blitz scheme allows the Gamecocks to put more pressure on the quarterback and if the secondary becomes more physical. If practice scrimmages are any indication, this is actually pretty likely.

However, the offense will also have to maintain last year’s pace despite losing its top two linemen, quarterback and every wide receiver that caught a pass other than Cooper. If, and only if, all of the above happens, the Gamecocks can compete for an SEC East title. If the Gamecocks overachieve this year, recruiting will pick back up in the 2017 cycle, and they can return to national prominence.

Worst Case Scenario

Record: 4-8

How? The defense stays bad, neither Mitch nor any other quarterback efficiently run the offense, a lack of receiving threats allows opposing defenses to key on Cooper (forcing the Gamecock offense to become one-dimensional), injuries along the offensive line stagnate the running game and last year’s fourth-quarter woes continue.

Likelihood: 10 percent

What if? This is not out of the realm of possibility. Last year, South Carolina took a step back while every SEC East team other than Florida and Vanderbilt improved substantially. South Carolina opens with one of the top offensive teams in the country in North Carolina, then plays four tough league opponents with an unpredictable UCF sandwiched in between.

If the offense can’t move the ball and the defense gets stuck on the field against mid-level teams, South Carolina could lose a lot of close games. In this scenario, South Carolina winds up with a losing record and 70-year old head coach Steve Spurrier could retire.

Most Likely Scenario

Record: 7-5

How? Mitch plays efficiently but doesn’t put up big numbers, a reshuffled offensive line struggles at times, a revamped defense keeps the Gamecocks in close games, but a tough schedule takes its toll, especially in weeks 3-6.

Likelihood: 45 percent

What if? South Carolina’s schedule is tougher than every team in the nation but Alabama. This season should be both encouraging and frustrating. With 2016 four-star quarterback recruit Brandon Mcllwain likely entering the mix in January, a quarterback battle would ensue, raising expectations for next season.

Spurrier would continue to contemplate the future date of his retirement and Athletic Director Ray Tanner would quietly begin scouting potential head coaches for the day Spurrier steps away.