Connor Shaw's production and toughness, but Dylan Thompson looked more than ready to take over the offense during the spring. He will play behind what many believe will be Steve Spurrier's best offensive line at USC, and tailback Mike Davis is back after running for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns last season. South Carolina's biggest concerns are on defense, where it has to replace star end Jadeveon Clowney, the potential No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and linemen Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton. The secondary also has two big holes with cornerbacks Vic Hampton and Jimmy Legree departing. Safety Brison Williams is solid, but the Gamecocks might have to look at a handful of incoming freshmen to fill holes in the secondary during preseason camp.
Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov, Ben Gardner and Ed Reynolds, as well as coordinator Derek Mason, who left to become Vanderbilt's head coach, Cardinal coach David Shaw has to like the way his defense performed this spring. End Henry Anderson emerged as Stanford's next great pass-rusher, and Blake Martinez and Joe Hemschoot are battling to replace Skov. Converted wide receiver Kodi Whitfield will have a chance to start next to Jordan Richards at safety. On offense, quarterback Kevin Hogan had a good spring and might be ready to take the next step as a passer, especially with so many receivers returning. Kelsey Young and Barry Sanders, son of the NFL legend, are battling to replace Tyler Gaffney, who ran for 1,709 yards with 21 touchdowns last season. Stanford must replace four starting offensive linemen -- left tackle Andrus Peat is the only returning full-time starter -- but perhaps no school has done a better job of recruiting linemen over the past four years.