KICKOFF: Saturday, 6 ET
SITE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.
SERIES: South Carolina leads 4-3 (last meeting, 1988, South Carolina 19-8)
RECORDS: Navy 2-0; South Carolina 2-0
POLLS: South Carolina (No. 10 AP, No. 11 USA Today)
KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Navy: As always, get the triple option clicking. The opportunity should be there against the No. 76 rushing defense in the country. On the flip side, South Carolina also has a strong running game that has to be limited by a Navy defense that's 84th in the nation against the run.
-- For South Carolina: Run the ball. The more time the Gamecocks spend on the field on offense, the less time Navy will have to run its triple option. South Carolina has struggled to stop this attack against less talented teams in the past.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Ricky Who? QB Kriss Proctor has made a seamless transition to the starting job for Navy after the spectacular Ricky Dobbs completed his eligibility. Word is he runs the option more precisely that Dobbs, which should come in handy against the 11th-ranked team in the country this week. But South Carolina can be run on, and we know of Navy's proficiency in that area.
Navy is playing all kids of young players on defense, and while the results have been good, Navy has yet to play a challenging opponent. That changes this week. LB Matt Warrick has become a standout on the defense in just two games. Warrick and fellow junior Matt Brewer lead the Mids in tackles, with 17 and 16, respectively.
South Carolina is averaging 373 yards per game in its first two encounters. That's disappointing to coach Steve Spurrier, who understands that with the weapons his team possesses, that number should be higher. He has particularly been disappointed in the passing game, where fifth-year senior QB Stephen Garcia and sophomore Connor Shaw have combined to complete only 21-of-49 passes with two interceptions. In addition to the inconsistency at quarterback, the head ball coach is still searching for a receiver to take some pressure off All-American Alshon Jeffery.
The main issue from 2010 has seeped into this season for South Carolina's defense. The Gameocks are again having problems defending against the pass. Both Spurrier and assistant head coach/defense Ellis Johnson lamented that fact following the team's 45-42 win over. In an attempt to stabilize the secondary, junior DeVonte Holloman has been moved back to safety from the SPUR position. He started at safety last season. The team has to play one more game before all its cornerbacks are available because redshirt freshman Victor Hampton must serve one more game of a three-game suspension. He is expected to immediately return to the fray when eligible.
Midshipmen: This week marks Navy's first game against an SEC team since beating Jay Cutler and Vanderbilt in 2004. The Mids are 9-9-2 all-time against the conference. ... A win over No. 11 South Carolina would give Navy its highest-ranked upset since it beat No. 2 South Carolina back in 1984. Navy's last win over a ranked opponent came two years ago over No. 19 Notre Dame. ... Navy has scored 80 points and run up 947 yards of offense in winning the first two games of the season, albeit against weaker opponents. ... After a penalty-free opener, Navy had two penalties last week and has amassed just 20 yards in two games. ... Navy is 24-2 when scoring first under coach Ken Niumatalolo, 24-0 when leading after three quarters over that same span. ... The win over Western Kentucky was coach Ken Niumatalolo's 29th as the head coach, making him the fastest Navy coach to that total. Paul Johnson won 28 games in his first four seasons. ... Senior RB Aaron Santiago is gone for the year and for his career after breaking his arm in last week's 40-14 win at Western Kentucky.
Gamecocks: South Carolina entered a 1984 road game against Navy with a 9-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking. But with dreams of a national championship dancing in their heads, the Gamecocks were slaughtered 38-21 and ended up playing in the Gator Bowl. They have won both encounters against the Midshipmen since then. ... CB Vic Hampton has to miss one more game to complete his three-game suspension. It is expected the redshirt freshman will contribute immediately once he is eligible to return. ... WR Damiere Byrd had his four-game suspension by the NCAA appealed by USC. Early in the week, they were hopeful it may be reduced by two. ... WR Alshon Jeffery has gotten off to a slow start considering the numbers he put up in his initial two seasons. He has caught 10 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown, with the score serving as the Gamecocks' first touchdown against Georgia in a 45-42 win over the Southeastern Conference rival. Teams have been successful double- and triple-teaming the All-American thanks to the inability of another receiver to step up. ... WR Jason Barnes did not play after what was deemed a sub-par performance in the team's opener against East Carolina.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Kriss Proctor -- He has been smooth running the option, with the feeling the Navy attack is now actually smoother with Proctor replacing Ricky Dobbs. Proctor has also gotten the chance to show off his arm, and his three touchdown passes in the first two games make Navy a double threat.
RB John Howell -- With Aaron Santiago gone for the year, Howell is now the starting slotback. He ripped off touchdown runs of 57 and 50 yards in the win at Western Kentucky.
DE Jabaree Tuani -- He hasn't been called on to do much against two weaker foes, but his season really starts in this game as the Mids face a team averaging 50.5 points per game in the first two games of the season.
DE Melvin Ingram -- South Carolina was struggling to make anything happen in the first half against Georgia. But, with the Bulldogs holding the momentum, Ingram took a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown. He both broke tackles, and then outran defensive backs to the goal line. He later returned a fumble, caused by a Jadeveon Clowney sack, for a five-yard touchdown and recovered an onside kick attempt late in the game.
DE Jadeveon Clowney -- Big things have been predicted for the freshman since he committed to the Gamecocks. On Saturday at Georgia, many found out why. Although he was only credited with two tackles, they were both crucial sacks. The second, which came in the fourth quarter, resulted in a five-yard fumble return for a touchdown that proved to be the decisive score.
WR Alshon Jeffery -- The junior All-American caught five passes for 77 yards, which are frankly below-par numbers for the human highlight machine. His first catch was an acrobatic reception in the Georgia end zone for the Gamecocks' first touchdown.
RB Aaron Santiago (arm, out).
WR D.L. Moore (shoulder, out), RB Shon Carson (knee, out).
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