Postcard from SEC Media Days: McElroy says “everyone is sleeping on South Carolina”

South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (11) catches the ball and scores a touchdown against Auburn defensive back Nick Ruffin (19) during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

HOOVER, Ala. – Greg McElroy, the former national championship-winning Alabama quarterback now working as an SEC Network analyst, thinks South Carolina is underrated going into the 2015 football season.

The Gamecocks were picked fourth in the SEC East behind Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri in the SEC Media Days poll released Thursday.

“Everyone is sleeping on South Carolina,” McElroy said Thursday at SEC Media Days. “Everyone has completely written them off, saying they are on the downward spiral. They lost four games last year that they should have won.”

McElroy, along with leading Alabama to the 2009 national title, was a top student before a brief NFL career. He went academic with his take on the Gamecocks’ 7-6 finish in 2014.

“They lost three games last year when they had double-digit leads – Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee,” McElroy said. “In all three of those they had at least a 92-percent chance of winning the game. The Tennessee game was over 96 percent. That’s insane when you think about it.

“And then you have the Auburn game when Dylan Thompson had two red-zone interceptions. So if the ball bounces their way – and that was with a historically bad defense – how bad was it really?”

McElroy thinks South Carolina did a solid job addressing its primary weakness.

“They signed seven defensive linemen,” McElroy said, “five of which played either JUCO or prep school ball. So they’re mature, they’re physical and I expect a big improvement under (new co-defensive coordinator) Jon Hoke this year.”

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff