The Gamecocks are hoping this game will allow for some younger players to gain valuable experience on the playing field this weekend. Wofford has been tough on the Gamecocks in recent years. Will it be the same this weekend? Find out what our Anthem Roundtable experts think about this weekend's game against the Terriers.
Today's roundtable features staff writer David Porter, Publisher Adam Garrett and guest bloggers Leftover Hot Dog and The Meat Locker Sports.
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We'll get started with this week's edition of The Anthem Roundtable...
Wofford brings their tough option attack to Williams-Brice this weekend. How does South Carolina need to approach this style of offense on defense?
PORTER: To stop any option attack you have to be disciplined. You must stay in your position and trust that your teammate beside you will do the same. If you're out of position you can expect the ball to go right where you were supposed to be every time. You also must make them play behind the chains.
GARRETT: Any time you see the word ‘option' in regards to an offense, you'll see the words ‘assignments' and ‘discipline.' The Gamecocks need to do both this weekend against Wofford's triple option. They can throw a variety of plays at you from the same look so the Gamecocks have to be prepared for that. Luckily, they have the athletes to make quick adjustments if they get out place but it seems like the best option would be to load the box against the run and keep everything in front.
LOHD: South Carolina needs to approach this game with a focus on playing disciplined defense. It boils down to each member of the defensive unit understanding their assignment and committing to stopping the run. Also the defensive squad must tackle well due to the fact that a team like Wofford is tough and able to sneak up on anyone. The Gamecocks are the better team and must show it on Saturday by not overlooking the Terriers.
MLS: The Gamecocks need to approach this one just as how they did last year against Nebraska. Except this time, they don't need to worry about Taylor Martinez or Rex Burkead. As long as the box stays stacked and our linebackers stick to their assignments, the run attack should easily be contained.
How important is it for South Carolina to start off strong and build a comfortable lead on Wofford this weekend?
PORTER: Any time you play a running offense you want to make them play from behind. If you build a comfortable lead they will begin to feel pressure to make big plays or throw the football. Both can lead to turnovers.
GARRETT: I think a strong start is important for the Gamecocks. If they're able to put up some fireworks early, it can get the fans into the game and force Wofford to play from behind. This style of offense isn't prepared for that and would basically be impossible to come-from-behind against the Gamecocks. If the Gamecocks start off slow and fail to capitalize and what will be limited opportunities, then it allows Wofford to stay in the game and keep on fighting. They've been close to the upset in recent years…South Carolina can't afford a close battle this weekend.
LOHD: Not as important as committing to playing assignment defense and getting Wofford to have a lot of three-and-outs. I am not too concerned with the Gamecocks offense as I feel they will do fine against Wofford but the overall keys for USC are winning time of possession and not committing turnovers.
MLS: Very important. Important because it'd be nice to get the starts off the field quickly and let some of the younger guys get in and get some time. The starters will benefit from light duty as we head into Clemson week.
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has been nursing a foot injury. All indications are that he will be fine for Saturday's game. Would you rest him this weekend or play him?
PORTER: The bottom line is you have to win the game. Carolina has not fared well against option offenses in recent years. Wofford may be an FCS team, but they are still really good. If you can jump out to an early lead and put Dylan Thompson in the game, then that's the best case scenario. You can't risk an embarrassing loss if Shaw is healthy enough to go.
GARRETT: I'd play him with the idea that he's out of the game at halftime. You aren't looking to build stats here for Shaw but you want him to continue to stay in game shape for next weekend's matchup with Clemson. This will be a perfect opportunity to get some reps for Dylan Thompson, Seth Strickland and Andrew Clifford.
LOHD: Get the two score lead then allow Dylan Thompson to give some relief. Beating Wofford by a ton of points is not as important as escaping with a no injuries. If I was Coach Spurrier, I would use Connor Shaw in as much as a limited capacity as possible.
MLS: I think you let Connor take the field early just to keep the weekly rhythm physically and mentally. I would assume that he's prepared for this week just like he has every other week in the thought that he's playing all four quarters. He's well coached and disciplined to have that mindset. An early lead will be key in letting Connor come out early to let guys like Thompson and Strickland take some reps. Who knows, there may very well even be a Clifford sighting on Saturday if all goes as planned.
Are there any younger players that you expect to see some significant action this weekend?
PORTER: Most of the younger guys that are not redshirting have seen some decent action throughout the year. I would like to see Shaq Roland and Jerell Adams get some extra action and I think they will have an opportunity this week. I'd also like to see the Dixon boys and Phillip Dukes to get some more playing time on the line against an offense they don't see that often.
GARRETT: I'd like to see some extended reps for receiver K.J. Brent and Shaq Roland this weekend. I'd also like to see Jerell Adams get plenty of chances and some young defensive lineman like the Dixon brothers and Phillip Dukes get some reps. You're looking to rest your players as much as possible this weekend if you've got a comfortable lead. Getting experience in a game is valuable for younger players. Who knows, it could pay off as early as next week.
LOHD: I want to see Mike Davis get some quality carries, I want to see Shaq Roland get a few deep pass looks and give Jerell Adams some reps at tight end. I've been impressed with them and feel they could use some touches to continue to build their confidence.
MLS: I'm still looking forward to seeing Mike Davis get a nice solid workload. Getting those reps are important heading into Clemson as he'll be relied on pretty heavily with Kenny. I also hope to see Shaq Roland make some plays on Saturday and show what he's learned this year and show that he's comfortable enough to take on a bigger role from this game on.
Be honest – is this a game that South Carolina can lose?
PORTER: I guess the key word here is honest. Any time you face a ball control offense you can lose even if you are much more talented. A bounce or two that goes Wofford's way can make the game tighter than it should be. Is this a game they can lose, yes. Is this a game they should lose, absolutely not.
GARRETT: I'm being honest here – no. There is no way that this is a game South Carolina can lose. I know you never say never, but in this situation, I'm saying never. South Carolina has too much talent to let this game turn into an upset. Wofford has the tools to hang with a school like South Carolina but there is no way the Gamecocks should lose.
LOHD: Simple answer is – No. The Gamecocks need to get the ‘W' as this late in the season a loss could be devastating for bowl scenarios plus it would let the "wind out of the sails" going into Clemson.
MLS: It's easy to get cute with a funny answer here, but no.
Wofford has thrown a total of 72 passes, averaging 7.2 passing attempts per game. Take your guess on the over/under of 7 passing attempts by Wofford this Saturday.
PORTER: I'm going over. I think early on Carolina forces the Terriers into some passing situations where they have to throw the ball to keep the chains moving, and I also think Carolina will build a lead and Wofford will be forced to throw it.
GARRETT: I'm saying Wofford goes over, but not by much. I think we'll see around 10 pass attempts from the Terriers. South Carolina may dare them with a lot of man coverage in the secondary as the main focus is to stop the run. The play action pass could be something the Terriers look to use some this weekend.
LOHD: Going with a under on this one. I feel there will be a healthy dose of fullback dives and option runs from Wofford but they will not try to do a lot of fancy stuff.
MLS: I like the over on this one. I think Wofford will struggle to move the ball on the ground and it will force them to try and go to the air more than they are accustomed. Because it's out of the ordinary for them, I see our secondary being ready to pounce on the ducks that are being thrown out there.
PORTER: South Carolina's offense may only get the ball seven times. Even if they don't get many possessions, they will still score on nearly all of them. Carolina wins 31-14.
GARRETT: I think the Gamecocks win comfortably here by a score of 41-13.
LOHD: Gamecocks get the win in comfortable fashion by the score of 34-6.
MLS: I'm going big here and jumping out of my normal safe predictions. I'm going Gamecocks 56-7.