BRYAN, Texas -- South Carolina won the SEC East in 2010, but came up just short of a return trip to the Georgia Dome the past two seasons.
With arguably the best defensive player in the nation on their side and Old Ball Coaches' always potent offense, the Gamecocks are poised to get back to Atlanta in 2013.
Back to back losses to LSU and Florida in the middle of the season cost the Gamecocks a shot at an SEC title a year ago. They won their final five games, including a close victory over Michigan in the Outback Bowl, and they don't plan on losing again any time soon.
Quarterback Connor Shaw said, "I think it's Atlanta or bust for this team and I think we have the team capable of doing it. Of course we have to go in and execute every week but that's our goals."
Wide receiver Bruce Ellington added, "We've been 11-2 for the last two years and I think we ready to break that cycle and compete for an SEC championship."
"We know we've been two games away the past two years from winning it," said defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. "Couple plays away. We know we have to work hard. The harder we work the better it's going to pay off sooner or later.
Head coach Steve Spurrier agrees with his players. "We believe we're capable of winning the SEC. We certainly don't know that we can do it but we'll try our best to first of all try and win the division and see if we could win our first ever SEC championship."
Jadaveon Clowney is a rare legit Heisman candidate on the defensive side of the ball. He delivered the hit of the year against Michigan, and after getting 13 sacks a year ago could have an even bigger 2013.
Shaw is glad Clowney isn't trying to sack him in games. "It's fun to watch. Me sitting on the sidelines watching him play. He's great to have on the team and he's a guy that brings everybody else together. People love him. He's a great guy to have in the locker room. He just brings players together. I feel fortunate to have him on my team."
"What the other team does is they try to account for him with maybe an extra blocker or so," Spurrier said. "We have to make sure we move him around some this year. Let him come up the middle, come from the other side, things like that. He's quick and fast and it's pretty hard for one guy to block him, pretty difficult."
The Gamecocks open the season August 29 against North Carolina, then they visit SEC east preseason favorite Georgia September 7.