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Five strengths and weaknesses for South Carolina

South Carolina is once again gearing up for a season full of high expectations. After finishing last year in the top 10, there is nothing to suggest that the team can’t do the same this season. Sure, they lost tailback Marcus Lattimore for good, but the Gamecocks have had to make do without him for portions of the last two seasons. In addition, the defense took a hit with the loss of Devin Taylor, DeVonte Holloman and Shaq Wilson, but coach Steve Spurrier and company have done a good job over the last few years developing depth in all of the defensive positions. With that said, here are some “strengths” of the 2013 team and five “weaknesses.”


North Carolina defense presents challenges

It is always tough in the first game of a season to plan for the opponent’s defense. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott admitted it will be a challenge for the Gamecock offense at first if North Carolina comes out with a defense that they have not seen before.


True freshman to start at kicker

For the majority of spring practice and the preseason, it seemed the kicking competition was strictly between sophomore Landon Ard and redshirt freshman Nick St. Germain.


Mike Davis begins season as starter

For most of the summer, South Carolina fans did not know which tailback would be walking out onto the field first when the season started. Finally, at the end of fall camp, they learned that sophomore Mike Davis would start against North Carolina.


Behind enemy lines

Daily Gamecock Sports Editor Kyle Heck had five questions about the upcoming matchup for Daily Tar Heel Sports Editor Brooke Pryor. Here are her answers.


New faces take over at linebacker

One of the biggest questions for South Carolina coming into the 2013 season was who would play linebacker. Last year, the linebacker and spur position was stockpiled with seniors including Devonte Holloman, Quin Smith, Shaq Wilson and Damario Jeffrey.


Defensive backfield returns key starters

South Carolina’s depth chart at the cornerback position this year can be best described as top-heavy. Redshirt senior Jimmy Legree and redshirt junior Victor Hampton, the projected starters at defensive back in secondary coach Grady Brown’s defensive backfield, combined to start 20 games last season.


	Rory Anderson has received praise this offseason but will miss the first game with an injury sustained in pracitce.

Two starters to sit out opener

With just one day before the season opener, South Carolina’s injury report is becoming a little more certain. Coach Steve Spurrier said on his call-in show Tuesday that tight end Rory Anderson is officially ruled out of the game against North Carolina, but tight end Jerell Adams should be able to play. Spurrier said Adams has run around “decent” in practice the last few days.


Allden returns to Gamecock cross country

Andrew Allden, USC’s new distances and cross country assistant coach, believes the cross country team has the potential to be a top-ranked program nationally. Allden, who has 27 years of coaching experience, coached at South Carolina from 1996 to 2001. During his stint in Columbia, Allden led the Gamecock cross country team to their best Southeastern Conference Championship finish in program history — No. 5 — in 1999.


	Highly touted players such as junior defensive Jadeveon Clowney have helped draw nationally-ranked recruits to South Carolina.

Future recruiting classes take shape

While attention has been focused on the season opener against North Carolina, coach Steve Spurrier and his staff are quietly putting together a nice recruiting class for the next couple of years.