COLUMBIA — Steve Spurrier was a few minutes into his postgame lament about lapses in a 41-30 loss at Georgia last week when he pointed to tenacity and leadership lost to the NFL.
“We miss a guy like D.J. Swearinger,” the South Carolina head coach said. “I look around and think, ‘Somebody has to make a tackle. Where’s Swearinger?’”
The hard-hitting safety is gone to the Houston Texans, one of three USC defensive starters selected in the 2013 draft (also Devin Taylor and DeVonte Holloman). Four starters on defense were plucked in 2012 (first-round picks Stephon Gilmore and Melvin Ingram, plus Antonio Allen and Travian Robertson).
The Gamecocks hadn’t had seven defensive players drafted over a two-year period since 1972-73, when four guys were picked in rounds 9 through 15 (these days there are only seven rounds in the draft).
We should have known better. Of course, South Carolina should have rebuilding pains.
“We have leaders in our group,” junior Spur linebacker Sharrod Golightly said this week. “We just have to be more vocal and speak up on the little stuff in practice.”
At least the Gamecocks came close in Athens. I went 5-5 last week against picking partner Warren Peper, who was 8-2.
Hoping for Swearinger-like impact in Week 3:
Vanderbilt at USC
Vanderbilt picked the wrong week to show up at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Gene Sapakoff pick: South Carolina, 28-14
Warren Peper pick: South Carolina, 30-19
The Citadel at WCU
Cullowhee is a tough place to play, and a tougher place to find. But Western Carolina has a 22-game Southern Conference losing streak.
Sapakoff pick: The Citadel, 17-14
Peper pick: The Citadel, 24-14
CSU at Campbell
Few football teams have gone to Buies Creek, N.C., and beat the Fighting Camels — mostly because Campbell reinstated its program in 2008 after a 58-year break.
Sapakoff pick: CSU, 24-21
Peper pick: Campbell, 20-17
Alabama A&M at S.C. State
Tyler McDonald (Stratford High School) caught two touchdown passes in last week’s 52-13 loss at Clemson. He’s 20 catches away from becoming S.C. State’s career receiving leader.
Sapakoff pick: S.C. State, 27-16
Peper pick: S.C. State, 30-20
Alabama at Texas A&M
Not true that Nick Saban spent the whole off-season breaking down Johnny Manziel tape. He vacationed at the lake for 45 minutes.
Sapakoff pick: Alabama, 30-28
Peper pick: Texas A&M, 30-27
Mississippi State at Auburn
Ellis Johnson’s defense intercepted three passes in Auburn’s 31-24 win over Washington State in the season opener.
Sapakoff pick: Auburn, 24-17
Peper pick: Auburn, 19-17
Ole Miss at Texas
After giving up 550 yards last week at BYU, Texas and head coach Mack Brown better not lose to an SEC underdog at home with Texas A&M hosting a showcase game down the road.
Sapakoff pick: Texas, 21-20
Peper pick: Texas, 24-16
Georgia Tech at Duke
Duke is 2-0 for the first time since 1998, but lost starting quarterback Anthony Boone to a broken collarbone in a win at Memphis.
Sapakoff pick: Georgia Tech, 35-24
Peper pick: Georgia Tech, 20-10
Virginia Tech at ECU
Quarterback Logan Thomas is struggling. A dangerous road game for the Hokies.
Sapakoff pick: Virginia Tech, 24-21
Peper pick: Virginia Tech, 27-20
UCLA at Nebraska
Doesn’t it seem like Taylor Martinez has been the Nebraska quarterback since Tom Osborne left Lincoln?
Sapakoff pick: Nebraska, 31-28
Peper pick: Nebraska, 21-17
Last week: Warren Peper 8-2, Gene Sapakoff 5-5
Season: Peper 16-4, Sapakoff 12-8
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff