UNC Scouting Report: South Carolina Gamecocks


South Carolina will serve as a formidable test for UNC to open the season. And while the Gamecocks are facing questions of their own, there are a few key players to watch out for when the teams face off Sept. 3.

Quarterback Situation – Connor Mitch

For most of the summer, South Carolina was tasked with replacing Dylan Thompson who led the SEC with 3,564 passing yards in 2014 and ranked third in passing touchdowns with 26. And just last week, South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier announced that redshirt sophomore Connor Mitch will be given the opportunity.

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Mitch played in only two games last year, completing two of his six passes. But for what it’s worth, his stats in high school are quite impressive. At Wakefield High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, Mitch posted 12,078 passing yards and 153 touchdowns – for both categories he ranks second all-time in North Carolina history. As a senior, he threw nine touchdown passes in a game, setting the single-season North Carolina record. He was one shy of tying the national record.

Mitch seems to be a gun-slinger like Thompson was. I expect a lot of aggressive throws from the young quarterback.

The MVP – Pharoh Cooper

Pharoh Cooper is without a doubt the best offensive threat that South Carolina has to offer.

Cooper earned First Team All-SEC honors in 2014 and was on the second team as an all-purpose player. Last year, he hauled in 69 catches and 1,136 receiving yards, good for third and second in the SEC, respectively.He also added 200 yards on the ground.

Nov 15, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (11) runs with the ball against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The media expect him to continue his success – Cooper was chosen for the Preseason All-SEC Second Team as a receiver and return specialist, and Preseason All-SEC First Team as an all-purpose player.

Cooper will be a deep threat for the Gamecocks. The UNC secondary is going to be tested early and often trying to contain the talented receiver.

Defensive Leader – Skai Moore

Similar to UNC, South Carolina’s defense was suspect in 2014. But through the dismal statistics, Skai Moore has been a model of consistency. As a freshman and a sophomore, Moore has led USC in tackles – 56 in 2013 and 93 in 2014. Last season, he was second on the team with three interceptions.

Now a junior, Moore is primed to breakout as an upperclassman with over 25 games of experience. USC is moving to a 4-3 scheme, which puts Moore at the mike linebacker position. He will serve as the quarterback of the South Carolina defense and justifiably so.

Reliable Kicking Game – Elliot Fry

Elliot Fry has proven to be a reliable kicker for the Gamecocks. In 2014, Fry made all of his extra points and hit 18 field goals out of 25 attempts. Three of those misses came from beyond 54 yards. That performance placed him on the All-SEC Second Team. And this year, he has been tapped for  Preseason All-SEC First Team. He was a Lou Groza semifinalist last season, and there is reason to believe he could accomplish the same this year. Tar Heel fans should be quite jealous.