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South Carolina seeking to build on 11-win seasons

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm •  Published: July 12, 2013
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Shaw wants to end his SEC career playing for a title. The offense has lost playmakers to the NFL in last year's leading rusher Marcus Lattimore and leading receiver Ace Sanders. The returning players, though, have experience and will be counted on to pick up where the former players left off.

Sophomore Mike Davis and junior Brandon Wilds will be counted on for the yards Lattimore would get in the backfield. Two-sport athlete Bruce Ellington will lead the receivers, which include the brother of former Gamecock standout Alshon Jeffery, Shamir Jeffery.

"Most of them played since they were freshman and sophomores," Shaw said. "So we've got people that understand the game."

The defensive focus is all on defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a consensus All-American who finished sixth in last year's Heisman Trophy balloting. He'll be the main attraction Tuesday when the SEC holds its yearly football media gathering. Then Clowney heads to Los Angeles for the ESPY Awards, where his helmet-popping hit on Michigan's Vincent Smith at the Outback Bowl is up for Best Play.

Linemate Kelcy Quarles says Clowney's maintained his poise and focus during workouts in order to help the Gamecocks improve as a defense.

"We know we're going to have a good team, period," Quarles said.

The true questions for South Carolina's defense lie behind the line where the team lost five senior linebackers. The losses in the secondary include safety D.J. Swearinger, who's hard hits often ignited the crowd and the players.

"Workouts are going pretty good," defensive lineman Chaz Sutton said. "We're not really worrying about the season right now, we're just preparing for camp."

Offensive lineman Cody Gibson said the players haven't gotten caught up on expectations, instead setting their goals as high as possible.

"I think we've got a great squad right now," he said. "The defense is looking great. Offense, we've got Connor and Dylan (Thompson) at quarterback. I'm really excited this year, definitely.