1. DOUBLE UP
The Gamecocks doubled their win total from last year, improving from three wins to six. One was over Tennessee to break a three-year losing streak.
2. GOING BOWLING
USC is going to a bowl game, which is only the 21st in school history. No matter where it is, it’s a lot better to be practicing for a month than counting the days to spring practice.
3. POURING CEMENT
The foundation was laid, especially on offense, with freshmen Jake Bentley, Rico Dowdle and Bryan Edwards playing integral roles this season.
Despite taking over a defense that lost its best player (Skai Moore), the Gamecocks were one of the league’s best at forcing turnovers and getting stops in the red zone.
5. NEW BLOOD
Muschamp and his staff have been demons on the recruiting trail, helping replenish a cupboard that had been ignored in recent years.
Was conservative offensive play-calling a result of freshmen in key roles or how Kurt Roper wants to run his system? Nobody minds if it wins but they need to know USC can be “fast and furious” if it needs to be.
USC’s futility on the offensive line also played into Roper’s struggle. The line had the most experience coming back and most thought it should have been better.
THE UNFRIENDLY CONFINES
3. Of USC’s five road games, the Gamecocks lost four and were down 10-0 in the fifth before Vanderbilt unwisely decided to sit the quarterback which directed the lead. USC was slow-starting in each.
The defense was very good from the 20 to the goal line but not great from 20 to 20. Tackling was lacking, especially late in the year, and sacks were again a forgotten art.
5. THOSE GUYS
Clemson is one of the country’s best teams and was playing at home. But the Gamecocks quit in the rivalry game, which should never, ever happen.