It’s been a while since LSU has made the trip to Columbia, South Carolina. Twelve years in fact, and the last time LSU visited Williams Brice Stadium, this happened.
LSU’s owned the Gamecocks historically. In 21 meetings, LSU is 18-2-1 against South Carolina and hasn’t lost since 1994. And for 2020, it appears talent, as well as history, is on the Tigers’ side.
South Carolina Gamecocks
2019: 4-8 (3-5), 47th S&P+
2020 Recruiting Class: 18th
Head Coach: Will Muschamp
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Bobo
Defensive Coordinator: Travaris Robinson
To me, two things stand out about Carolina’s offseason. The Gamecocks being a top-50 team in S&P+ despite a 4-8 record is amazing. Carolina’s one of four teams to be in the final top-50 with a losing record and had by far and away the worst record of the bunch.
South Carolina also had a surprisingly strong recruiting class relative to its record. But the Gamecocks managed to hold onto some of the top talent in state, signing the state’s No. 1, 2 and 4 prospects. The class is headlined by five-star defensive tackle Jordan Burch the No. 8 prospect in the 2020 class. Burch had one of the more dramatic recruiting stories, and didn’t sign his Letter of Intent on early signing day. Many thought he’d flip, spurn the hometown Gamecocks and sign with LSU but that didn’t hold and Burch signed in February.
Signing Burch was the biggest win Will Muschamp and staff had all 2019. Last season was by far and away Muschamp’s worst in Columbia, though a surprising win over Georgia in Athens helped salvage an otherwise sour season.
Part of Carolina’s rough 2019 was losing quarterback Jake Bentley for the season in September. A foot injury knocked Bentley out and true freshman Ryan Hilinski had to captain the Gamecocks for the rest of the season. Hilinski certainly looked like a true freshman at times but starting 11 games last season ought to provide huge dividends in 2020. I mean, hey, he’s started more games than Myles Brennan.
Carolina will have a new look backfield in 2020. The Gamecocks’ top-three rushers from last season’s team are gone, but in steps four-star running back MarShawn Lloyd, a top-50 prospect in America. Lloyd was Carolina’s second biggest get in their 2020 recruiting class and 247 compares him to Frank Gore. If Lloyd is indeed the next Frank Gore then I look forward to adding him to my 2097 fantasy team.
South Carolina will be ushering in some new faces in its wide receiving corps as well. The Gamecocks lose three of its top-four receivers from last season’s team. Senior Shi Smith will have to build off his 43-catch, 489 yard season.
Along the offensive line is probably where Carolina will be best. The Gamecocks bring back four starters including right tackle and 2018 Freshman All-American Dylan Wonnum, and fifth-year senior Sadarius Hutcherson at left guard. The new face will be at left tackle but the hope is Jazton Turnetine, a JUCO All-American from Hutchinson Community College can make the leap without any hiccups.
Defensively Carolina hopes Burch can help revitalize its front four now that Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Wonnum and Kobe Smith have all begun their NFL careers. Not only did Muschamp sign Burch, but the Gamecocks also brought in two more four-star defensive tackles, Alex Huntley and the wonderfully named Tonka Hemingway. Carolina also brings back one of the more underrated players in the SEC, senior defensive end Aaron Sterling. Sterling led the Gamecocks in tackles for loss with 10 and also had six sacks.
At linebacker, South Carolina brings back a pair of upperclassmen: senior Sherrod Greene and junior Ernest Jones. Jones was the Gamecocks leading tackler in 2019 with 97 total stops.
In the secondary, the Gamecocks bring back a lot of experience. Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu project to be the starting corners once again. Mukuamu, a Louisiana native, led the team with four interceptions, three coming in the win over Georgia. Junior R.J. Roderick is back after starting 11 games last year at safety and Jammie Robinson looks to be a safety/nickel hybrid, similar to how LSU uses Kary Vincent.
South Carolina Schedule
September 5: vs. Coastal Carolina
September 12: vs. East Carolina
September 19: vs. Missouri
September 26: @ Kentucky
October 3: vs. @ Florida
October 10: vs. Tennessee
October 17: BYE
October 24: vs. Texas A&M
October 31: @ Vanderbilt
November 7: vs. Georgia
November 14: @ LSU
November 21: vs. Wofford
November 28: @ Clemson