Projecting the 2016 Gamecock Football Season

Has there ever been a Gamecock team going into a season with so much uncertainty? You have a new head coach, new coaching staff and many new players that will be asked to play key roles. The projection formula we use is a good one. It is unbiased and has been pretty accurate over the years. However, it does have limitations. Projecting a team in the Gamecocks' situation presents some accuracy issues.
These projections are unbiased and based strictly on our power numbers that have been calculated using a multi-step formula. 
Any game that is projected to be within 5 points we deem as a game that could go either way. In our best case scenario, we give every projected loss within 5 points a win. In our worst case scenario, we give every projected win within 5 points a loss.
Before we look ahead at 2016, let's take a look back at 2015. You don't want to? Neither do I, but I think it is important. Many Gamecock fans were confident that the Gamecocks were just a few fixes on defense away from being a very good team again in 2015. My garnet and black blood was hoping for the same. The issue was the projections worried me. I posted these projections a year ago and made many Gamecock fans angry with me. Once again, these projections are based on a formula. I can't make the projections say something else. Here is what the projections looked like a year ago at this time:
South Carolina2015
OpponentProjected Result
North CarolinaWIN by 1
KentuckyWIN by 5
at GeorgiaLOSE by 18
at MissouriLOSE by 12
VanderbiltWIN by 9
at Texas A&MLOSE by 10
at TennesseeLOSE by 14
FloridaWIN by 2
The CitadelWIN 21
ClemsonLOSE by 5
Overall Record 6 - 6Overall Conference Record 3-5
Best Case Record 7-5Best Case Conference Record 3-5
Worst Case Record 3-9Worst Case Conference Record 1-7
These projections caused me some concern. It wasn't so much the 6-6 projection that worried me but rather the best case scenario record was just 7-5. I was accused of being a moron, a tater and a moron tater. Unfortunately, I think we all would have killed for a 6-6 or 7-5 season last year. Every thing that could go wrong, did go wrong. Injuries forced the Gamecocks to play Perry Orth at QB and then we had that whole "our coach just quit?" situation.
The season spiraled out of control and the 3-9 overall record and the 1-7 conference record matched the exact worst case scenario projection.
It is now time for 2016. Before I get to the unbiased projections let me speak on some of my somewhat biased beliefs about the Gamecocks. I am excited. I am excited about the start of the new era of Gamecock football. As I have stated early on, Will Muschamp was my first choice. Many of you thought I was crazy then and some of you still think I am crazy. I think he is exactly what this program needs and I am very confident he will be successful here.
However, this all about this season and if you are confident that you know what this Gamecock team is going to do then you have either time traveled or you are lying to yourself. Remember when I said these projections have some limitations and the accuracy could be a bit compromised in this Gamecock situation? This is good news for Gamecock fans because these projections do not look great.
However, I think if you look deep enough at the numbers you can see some bright spots. Here are the projections for South Carolina Gamecocks in 2016:
South Carolina2016
OpponentProjected Result
at VanderbiltLOSS by 3
at Miss StateLOSS by 10
vs East CarolinaWIN by 13
at KentuckyLOSS by 4
vs Texas A&MLOSS by 4
vs GeorgiaLOSS by 5
vs UMASSWIN by 32
vs TennesseeLOSS by 12
vs MissouriWIN by 1
at FloridaLOSS by 12
vs Western CarolinaWIN by 34
at ClemsonLOSS by 22
Projected Overall Record 4-8Projected Conference Record       1-7
Best Case Record               8-4Best Case Conference Record       5-3
Worst Case Record            3-9Worst Case Conference Record   0-8
At first glance, a 4-8 projected record makes you want to puke not to mention the 1-7 SEC record. The worst case scenario is the familiar 3-9 record with an 0-8 mark in the SEC. Shoot me now! Here is the bright side, the Gamecocks are projected to be in a lot of close games this year.
You can have one of two perspectives on this:  You can be in the camp that views the Gamecock program as having very little talent and a 4-8 record makes perfect sense or you can be in my camp, let's call it The Big Boom Camp. The Big Boom Camp believes there is more talent in this program than has been on display. My camp believes there are many guys who have underachieved. The Big Boom Camp believes that coaching does make a difference, attention to detail makes a difference. These are all things that have been missing the last few years in the program.
Depth is an issue but if you believe in Muschamp and his staff you have to at least say the Gamecocks should split their four close games. That brings us to 6-6 and 3-5 prediction which sounds just about right. 

You can also make a strong case that the Gamecocks have a realistic shot at starting the season at 6-1. Would a 6-1 Gamecock team have the confidence to then pull an upset or two in the remaining games on the schedule? Why not? Stay tuned.