Don’t worry Gamecock fans, I can guarantee the Ol’ Ball Coach will eventually pick a quarterback to start the season. Of course with Steve Spurrier, there are never guarantees about what happens after the first snap. But for the time being, he is gonna coach ’em up, and we’ll know who the starter will be sometime before game day on Thurs. Sept. 3.
Everyone knows that Spurrier throws shade at his quarterbacks, so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t sound happy with his choices. Certainly, no one would be shocked if he uses a short hook, and we see some kind of rotation at quarterback this season. But the thing about Spurrier is that you are never certain if he’s just trolling his opponent, North Carolina in this case, by refusing to name a starter or whether he is trying to put pressure on last year’s primary backup Connor Mitch to win this job.
For awhile last spring, it looked like Gamecocks would land graduate transfer Everett Golson from Notre Dame. Golson grew up in Myrtle Beach and led the Irish to an undefeated 2012 season and berth in the 2013 National Championship Game. Perfect, right? Unfortunately, Golson was forced to sit out the 2013 regular season after being dismissed from Notre Dame for cheating on a test. He eventually earned his way back onto the team, but it turns out there’s a new SEC rule that prevents the transfer of students with disciplinary actions at their previous institutions. A waiver is now required from the league. Ultimately, like everyone else with academic or character issues, Golson was accepted by Florida State.
The guy most concerned about the outcome of the QB battle has got to be last year’s breakout superstar wide receiver Pharoh Cooper. For those Gamecocks who jumped off the bandwagon early last season (and really, who could blame you), Cooper exploded for nine receiving touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, and two passing touchdowns and earned First-Team SEC honors. This converted defensive back does it all, but his Heisman hopes surely rest on the ability of one the quarterbacks to get him the ball.
The good news for Cooper is that South Carolina figures to be throwing a lot this year. The Gamecocks return most of their starters on a defense which gave up an SEC worst 6.3 yards per play in 2014. To turn this around, Spurrier hired Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke as co-defensive coordinator with play-calling duties. Coach Hoke has been preaching speed and aggression thus far in camp, and if his time with the Bears is any indication, the Gamecocks will be creating turnovers at every opportunity. The Bears aggressive ball-hawking defense carried Rex Grossman to a Super Bowl.
Still, no one is predicting any championships for the Gamecocks this season. Not a single member of the press voted for the Gamecocks to win the title at SEC media day. Vandy was the only other team that failed to get a vote. Vegas hasn’t been impressed with Carolina either. The Gamecocks odds of winning the championship have jumped from 110:1 to 300:1.
So, Gamecock fans it’s time to get your head right or your bets down. It’s time to recognize that this is going to be a rough season and set expectations accordingly. Consider the season a success if you manage to beat Florida or Georgia again or get revenge on Tennessee for that overtime loss last year. If you go into the season hoping to see a few big plays each game, it’s going to be a lot more fun than if you actually expect the Gamecocks to compete for a championship.