- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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We look at the South Carolina Gamecocks, as our "One good reason" series continues.
Let's see what the Gamecocks could do in 2012:
South Carolina will win the SEC East: The pieces are in place on both sides of the ball for a special run.
There's a reason Steve Spurrier has been chirping since the spring: He really likes the team he has. And what's not to like? The defense will be anchored by one of the SEC's top lines, which features two fine pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, and a very experienced and gifted linebacking corps. Offensively, if running back Marcus Lattimore comes back from his knee injury at 100 percent he'll make a strong case to be the nation's best at has position. The key could be quarterback Connor Shaw. If he can truly become that pass-first player Spurrier wants this offense could take off. There is a lot of unproven talent at wide receiver, but a quality quarterback can mask that inexperience. We saw Shaw make strides to use his arm more than is feet toward the end of last year, and it seemed to carry over this spring, but he'll have to make sure he can keep it going this fall.
The Gamecocks swept the SEC East last season, but stayed home and watched Georgia play in Atlanta. You better believe that's motivation for this team. Those players -- and Spurrier -- weren't happy at all about how that worked out for the Bulldogs last season, and they're itching for a little revenge.
Why it won't: The schedule could be too much.
South Carolina has some tough road games coming up this fall. The Gamecocks start the season off at Vanderbilt on a Thursday night. South Carolina will likely be favored, but we all know how different Vandy is these days and it's a night game with a reenergized fan base and program. The Gamecocks have to be cautious. But the real fun begins in October. The good good news is that South Carolina gets Georgia and Tennessee at home, but the bad news is that trips to LSU and Florida are sandwiched in between. Arkansas is still on the schedule, but it's a home game for the Gamecocks. However, the struggles South Carolina has had with Arkansas are well documented.
South Carolina will have a very tiring October and getting through it unscathed will be extremely tough. The Gamecocks certainly have the skill to make another strong run in the East, but October will make or break their season. A couple of losses during that month could ruin South Carolina's chances of making it back to Atlanta.
3dSam Khan Jr.