Tag:South Carolina Gamecocks
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:01 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 6:09 pm
 

DE Taylor returning to South Carolina for 2012

In senior Melvin Ingram, junior Devin Taylor and heralded true freshman Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina's defensive line featured more individual talent than any other unit on Steve Spurrier's team during the 2011 season.

The Gamecocks will certainly miss Ingram's versatility but with the announcement Monday that Taylor will be returning in 2012 for his senior campaign, South Carolina will again feature an extraordinary pass rush combination next season.

Scouts have long had high regard for Taylor, listed at 6-7, 260 pounds by the Gamecocks. With Ingram lining up inside at defensive tackle, Taylor started all 13 games opposite Clowney in 2011, recording 42 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. The numbers, while certainly respectable, were actually a bit of a disappointment, as Taylor earned First Team All-SEC honors in 2010 with 46 stops, including 13 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

"I still have some things I'd like to accomplish at Carolina before I go on to the next level," said Taylor in a statement released by the university.

Taylor is currently ranked by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 4 defensive end for the 2013 draft.  

Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Offensive-minded Spurrier owes 2011 success to DL

Steve Spurrier is known throughout the country for his ability to score points. With two of the elite skill position players in the game in sophomore running back Marcus Lattimore and junior wideout Alshon Jeffery he has the star power to take advantage of his scheme and aggressive play-calling.

Whatever success the Gamecocks will have in 2011, however, can be directly attributed to the play of their defensive line.

Senior Melvin Ingram has emerged as the most dangerous and versatile defensive lineman in the country. He's already scored touchdowns on defense and special teams, currently ranks third on the squad with 26 tackles, is tied for the team lead with two interceptions and leads the SEC with 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He's been recognized as the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week twice already (and another time as the Special Teams Player of the Week), including this past week when he ravaged reigning BCS champion Auburn for 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a career-high three sacks. He also recorded an interception when Auburn attempted a fake field goal.

The 6-2, 276 pound Ingram has proven to be simply too quick and instinctive for interior offensive linemen to handle. A former defensive end, he's been moved inside this season due to the presence of two other, highly talented defensive ends for the Gamecocks -- true freshman Jadeveon Clowney and junior Devin Taylor.

Many considered Clowney to be the elite prep prospect in the country and his signing with South Carolina was met with great fanfare. His play thus far has proven that the hype was well justified as he's behind only Ingram in terms of tackles for loss (five) and sacks (four) on the team. Listed at 6-5, 254 pounds, he already has the looks of a future NFL star. In another couple of years, he could be scary.

Taylor, 6-6 and 260 pounds, has the length and athleticism NFL scouts are looking for but hasn't played with nearly the consistency or produced the big plays that Ingram and Clowney have. Taylor's height has caused him to struggle, at times, this season with making tackles in close spaces. Scouts characterize him as a "bit stiff" and unable to change directions quickly enough to adjust in space. This was evident in South Carolina's close win over Navy when Taylor was credited with a season-high nine tackles, but missed opportunities for even more stops near the line of scrimmage. To Taylor's credit, he has proven a more reliable tackler in recent games. Considering his upside, continued improvement could lead to his ultimately being graded as a better pro prospect than Ingram, despite the fact the lesser production (19 tackles, four tackles for loss, one sack).

If South Carolina is able to solve their issues at quarterback and emerge as the BCS bowl contender they appear to be, a significant portion of the credit should go to their defensive line. NFL scouts certainly are doing so...


Posted on: February 26, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Broken foot Saunders' latest setback

Former South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders finally caught a break – in his foot.

Suspended by the NCAA and kicked out of the Gamecocks program for his role in an investigation into improper benefits from an agent, Saunders arrived in Indianapolis looking to impress NFL scouts on a football field for the first time in more than a year. However, his medical check revealed a broken bone in his foot.

Saunders will still be able to take part in interviews with teams, which will be just as critical in recapturing some of his lost draft stock. He's currently the No. 11-rated tight end, projected as a sixth-round pick.

--Derek Harper
Posted on: September 3, 2010 12:36 am
 

Dareus suspension mars spectacular Opening Day

Today should be remembered for what was a brilliant opening day of the D-IA college football season.

National title contenders Ohio State and Miami looked every bit the part in dismantling weak opponents (Marshall, Florida Atlantic) on their way to next weekend's showdown in Columbus.

Mountain West Conference power Utah successfully protected their home turf for an eye-popping 18th consecutive game in upsetting No. 15 Pittsburgh.

And by putting up 41 points in their home opener, one can't help but wonder if this finally is the year that the Ol Ball Coach's South Carolina Gamecocks take the next step offensively.

There were so many reasons to be optimistic about the college football season.

And instead, Tuesday evening news broke that Alabama defensive Marcell Dareus, a potential All-American and first round prospect, was suspended for the first two games of the year. Dareus follows UNC defensive tackle Marvin Austin as the latest casualty of the NCAA's investigation into players receiving innapropriate benefits from agents. He's arguably the best player on the best team in the country.

Forgive me for being pessimistic this evening of what should be the most optimistic day of the year.

But, after what has been a tumultuous offseason for college football, it would have been nice to enjoy it with the big news being the action on the field.

 
Posted on: July 19, 2010 12:22 pm
 

South Carolina TE Saunders caught up in UNC mess

South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect at the position, is being investigated for potential inappropriate contact with sports agents , according to Joseph Person of TheState.com.

Saunders, who grew up in Durham, North Carolina, is said to be friends with several of the UNC players reportedly being investigated last week by NCAA officials. According to Person's report, the NCAA's concern may be that an agent paid for airfare and lodging for Saunders and/or UNC players, which, of course, would be a violation of the amatuer eligibility rules.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier acknowledged that his talented tight end is in potential trouble with the NCAA in Person's article, but was careful not to paint Saunders in a bad light.

“I’m not accusing Weslye of anything. He may be innocent. He may just know those (North Carolina) guys,” Spurrier said. “But we’ll just have to wait and see how it all comes out.”
The 6-5, 272 pound Saunders offers a rare combination of size and athleticism for the position. A featured component of the team's offense to start last season, Saunders caught 12 passes over his first two games, but finished with only 32 (for 352 yards and 3 scores) on the year.

Saunders heavily considered leaving early for the NFL after last season and did request a grade from the NFL Advisory Committee. Saunders' grade was reported to be in the mid-rounds, which led to his return to South Carolina for his senior season.

Saunders certainly has the physical potential to warrant NFLDraftScout.com's lofty preseason ranking. With previous concerns about his work ethic and consistency, however, if he is to take full advantage of his impressive natural skill set, he'll need to get through the NCAA investigation unscathed and put forth an inspired 2010 season.

Posted on: September 24, 2009 11:40 pm
 

Snead had little help, but was tentative, flat

There is no denying Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead's physical talent, but as I mentioned in the previous blog entry, his inconsistent effort against Memphis gave reason for concern in tonight's game against South Carolina. After completing only 7 of the 21 passes he attempted against the Gamecocks in the loss, Snead wasn't just inconsistent, at times, he was simply bad. Snead was tentative with his reads and attempted to guide his passes, rather than unleash them with the zip he's shown in the past. Too often his passes sailed high and wide, forcing receivers to alter their routes. I never saw the confidence with which he'd shown in prior games -- certainly not the swagger he showed in games last season.

To be fair, Snead had little help. South Carolina didn't blitz as often as some expected, but were still able to consistently pressure him. Snead was also forced to throw to a group of receivers that frequently broke off their routes, dropped catchable passes or failed to drag their feet to remain in bounds.

Snead's talent, at least thus far this season, has been surpassed by his hype. At this point, he is a prospect with first round tools, but only middle round production. There certainly is plenty of time to recoup his stock, as Snead is only a junior. However, there had been plenty of speculation that Snead would be looking to cash in on potential NFL millions after a successful season. Any consideration he may have had about entering the draft early had better stop now, as his stock is falling quickly. The only way to earn it back is to re-focus and play better.

On another note -- South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was recognized as MVP of the contest with marginal numbers. While he was solid throughout much of the game, his inability to sustain drives in the 4th quarter kept this game close and allowed Ole Miss opportunities to come back and steal this one. The real MVP was clearly pass rusher Eric Norwood, who continued his remarkable penchant for big plays in big games with 10 tackles, 2 sacks and a partially blocked kick. Norwood earned a spot in this week's Draft Slant and may even be up for Player of the Week honors.
Posted on: September 24, 2009 5:59 pm
 

Pressure on Ole Miss DE Hardy, QB Snead tonight

Much more than conference rankings are at stake for senior defensive end Greg Hardy and junior quarterback Jevan Snead when #4 Mississippi travels to South Carolina this evening.

The heavily hyped duo have been less than impressive in the Rebels' first two games of the season. Hardy, seemingly perpetually battling foot injuries, was held out of last week's tuneup against Southeastern Louisiana. He posted a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery in the opener against Memphis on September 6th, but was injured early on and only made spot appearances the rest of the game. He enters tonight's game with only the one tackle thus far.

Scouts know Hardy has talent. Unlike many of the recent SEC pass rushers with his type of production (33.5 career TFLS, 21.5 sacks), Hardy is a complete defensive end, blessed with the size and strength to be a force in the running game, as well as a pass-rusher. His struggles with durability and odd behavior, however, make him especially vulnerable to a significant slip down draft boards should his play not improve soon.

Snead, after struggling mightily against Memphis early with poor decision-making, inaccurate throws to all levels of the field and questionable mechanics (especially when on the move), settled down late. He was great last week against Southeastern Louisiana (3 TDs-0 INTs), but then again, it was Southeastern Louisiana...  He enters the game with a TD-INT ratio of 5-2, with obviously his two touchdowns and two interceptions coming against the Tigers on the 6th. Snead has the arm that every NFL team is looking for, but will have to play under control tonight against a very aggressive and athletic USC defensive backfield. I know of scouts who feel the Gamecocks are as deep in the secondary as any team in the country. And without Michael Oher there to protect Snead's blindside, it would be typical Eric Norwood-style to steal Greg Hardy's thunder with a big performance in front of the scouts and national television audience.

Besides the NFL draft angle, this game is huge in terms of the SEC race and BCS rankings. The game, which will be televised nationally by ESPN, features a Mississippi squad that hasn't been ranked this high in nearly 40 years. They have loads of NFL talent on their roster and appear ready to avenge last season's loss to South Carolina. Don't sleep on the Spurrier-led Gamecocks, however. Their ability to beat more talented teams in their house makes them one of the more dangerous opponents in all of the SEC.
 
 
 
 
 
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