Alabama will take on the Gamecocks at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, a game that will be nationally telecast by the cable network ESPN2. Both teams are 3-1 overall and 1-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama no longer has the services of quarterback Brodie Croyle, lost for the season with a knee injury two Saturdays ago. It is the job of Dave Rader to get Bama's offense ready with new starting quarterback Marc Guillon.
Rader talked about Guillon's first starting performance against Arkansas, a game in which the sophomore completed only six of 18 passes for only 57 yards and suffered an interception, the first allowed by Bama this year. And Rader also had things to say about the Crimson Tide running game and about the difficulties Coach Lou Holtz's Gamecocks defense presents this week.
"Marc did a lot of things well," Rader said. "He did some things he'd like to be able to do over. In practice, we do things over; in games, we don't have that opportunity. I don't think he lost confidence; I didn't see that in him. A loss hurts him. I think he'll respond by being even more determined.
"He did a good job of running the offense. He only missed a couple of reads, we had no false starts. He saw the field. He said after the game there were some things he didn't see, but that's always the case. He stayed in the pocket. We got a play in late and he called a time out so we didn't get a delay (of game penalty). Those were positives.
"There wasn't anything we didn't call because Marc was the quarterback. Marc knows the offense well. He'll be able to transition from the plan for the Arkansas defense to the plan for the South Carolina defense and go forward. We're playing a different defense, so things will change for Marc. They have a nice defensive plan. Everyone has tried to throw it against them and they haven't given up many points.
"South Carolina has an experienced front seven and big ends, linebackers, and safeties. They are playing their schemes well. They are a solid, solid unit. They seem to have every base covered.
"Now, Marc hit 33 per cent of his passes. We need to improve on that. We were doing much better in practice, hitting a high percentage of passes. Even though a few at the end were in the hurry-up offense, that low percentage surprised me. We need to be up about 60 per cent.
That's partly a matter of them (receivers and quarterback) being used to one another. There's not much time in one week. We'll go out in practice this week and throw route after route after route."
Rader said, "On the incompletions, so many times wee were close. We'll try to eliminate ‘close' in practice this week. We had some nice third down passes."
Rader expects to see improvement in his quarterback, and therefore in the Bama offense, each week.
He said, "Last week as we prepared our quarterback, we needed to have a plan that was executable, as you would expect for a first-time starter. The plan was working well. We didn't not want to throw. But we were running so well; we thought we'd run well, but we ran even better than we expected. We weren't holding Marc back. Ray Hudson was on fire, so we were going to keep giving him the ball.
"I don't see our schedule allowing us to have 70 runs and two passes in a game. We're playing a defense this week that loves to stop the run and does an effective job of it."
Last week senior halfback Ray Hudson had 20 rushes for a career-high 170 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown run.
Rader said, "We've always had confidence in Ray. More important, the guys up front have confidence in him. They believe if they give him a block, he's going to make a big play. There's nothing that makes an offensive lineman feel better than making a block and seeing the back make a long run. And I don't think Ray has had his best game yet.
"Ray isn't a big guy, but he's a strong guy.
Rader said that Assistant Coach Sparky Woods has done a good job with the running backs. "Fullback is another position where we have good depth," Rader said. "Le'Ron McClain is playing extremely well now. Tim Castille always plays well. Josh Smith is giving us good downs."
Rader knows it will be difficult to get the running game going this week. He said, "South Carolina packs a lot of people in there. They have different ways of getting eight or nine in the box. Georgia threw a lot against them. We'll have to have guys make big plays."