Strong and weak: South Carolina

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
5:25
PM ET
It's time to check out South Carolina's strongest position and weakest position heading into the 2013 season.

Strongest position: Defensive line

Ask any coach in the SEC what position he’d most like to be strong at, and defensive line would almost certainly be at the top of his list. The Gamecocks should again have one of the top defensive lines in the league, and it all starts with junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. There’s not another game-changer in college football quite like Clowney on defense, and he can completely wreck opposing teams’ offensive game plans. He’s not a one-man show, either. Junior Chaz Sutton is primed for a breakout season at the other end after recording five sacks last season. Junior tackle Kelcy Quarles is one of the more underrated players in the league, and the Gamecocks are excited about the dimension redshirt freshman Darius English gives them as a quicker defensive end when they go to their “rabbits” package on passing downs.

Weakest position: Linebacker

We’ll include the hybrid “spur” position in this group since the Gamecocks employ a 4-2-5 scheme. There are a ton of unknowns with senior starters Shaq Wilson, Reginald Bowens and DeVonte Holloman all gone. Most of their backups have also departed, meaning a lot of new faces will be on the field in 2013. Linebacker was a huge priority in this most recent signing class, and true freshman Larenz Bryant could be a factor at linebacker or spur. Sophomore Kaiwan Lewis will step in at middle linebacker, while fellow sophomore Cedrick Cooper is the likely starter at weak side linebacker after missing the spring while recovering from knee surgery. Redshirt freshman Jordan Diggs and junior Sharrod Golightly are battling it out for the starting spur job. The Gamecocks like their young talent at linebacker, but they’ll be lean on experience.

Chris Low | email

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