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STEVE SPURRIER'S Fun 'n' Gun is gone, replaced by a zone-read, ball-control scheme. It might sound a little dire, certainly a little strange, but combined with an athletic defense, it's an offense that can win big in today's ground-and-pound SEC. Tailback Marcus Lattimore returns from a torn ACL, and quarterback Connor Shaw—who started the final eight games after erratic gunslinger Stephen Garcia was kicked off the team for a rules violation—should be even better this fall. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who will run the D now that Ellis Johnson has departed to be head coach at Southern Miss, has a toy box of a line that includes twin towers Jadeveon Clowney (6'6") and Devin Taylor (6'8") at end.
SHAQ ROLAND The wide receiver is the fourth consecutive South Carolina Mr. Football to sign with Spurrier. If he produces as quickly as the previous three—CB Stephon Gilmore, Lattimore and Clowney—he'll become one of Shaw's favorite targets.
JADEVEON CLOWNEY The nation's top-ranked recruit in 2011, Clowney had eight sacks and five forced fumbles as a freshman. The scary part? He played limited snaps because he didn't know South Carolina's defensive playbook. Now he does, much to the chagrin of SEC quarterbacks.
LATTIMORE AND SHAW will give the Gamecocks one of the nation's best rushing offenses, and five starters are back from a ferocious defense. South Carolina has a tougher schedule—including games against West powers LSU and Arkansas—than fellow SEC East favorite Georgia. But the Gamecocks have home field advantage for their game against the Bulldogs on Oct. 6, with the winner likely to play for bigger things. The Gamecocks won an SEC East title in 2010 and won 11 games in '11. The Head Ball Coach has always been more about SEC championships than national titles; this year he has a team worthy of being in both discussions.