Josh Kendall

SEC Network personality expects fireworks from Gamecocks in 2017

SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears sees good things on the horizon for South Carolina’s football team, maybe even on the near horizon.

“I’m excited about South Carolina,” Spears said Tuesday at SEC media days. “You’re not going to go into Columbia with a guaranteed victory. You’re going to have to play really good defense in order to stop them from doing what they want to do offensively. They have put together something on offense that I think has the potential to be something special. You get the defense to come with it, and it could be a team here in a couple years that has the talent to compete for the East.”

Sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley is the main reason for Spears’ optimism. Bentley, who started seven games and threw for 1,420 yards last year, could be “one of the top or three quarterbacks in the conference” this season, Spears said.

“From a skill position standpoint, they have one of the best teams in the conference,” Spears said. “You talk about Rico Dowdle. I think Jake Bentley is going to be a stud, coach’s son, knows the game, loves the game, has a little bit of wiggle where he can get out of the pocket and can sling it. And when he slings it, he’s slinging it to Bryan Edwards, he’s slinging it to Deebo Samuel and (Hayden Hurst). The offensive line is big and physical.”

South Carolina’s offense has the potential to average 28 points per game in 2017, Spears thinks, which would be quite an accomplishment considering it finished last in the conference last season with 20.8 points per game.

“The concern is defense personnel wise,” said Spears, who was a defensive lineman at LSU when Muschamp was the Tigers defensive coordinator. “Will will put those guys in position where they are not overexposed, but we know in this conference you have to stop people.”