Anthem Roundtable: Arkansas

In this edition of the Anthem Roundtable, Wes Mitchell and guest bloggers, Leftover Hotdog and Life of a Gamecock, answer burning questions on the Gamecocks' SEC match-up with Arkansas. Look inside for this week's edition.

Today's roundtable features staff writer David Porter, Publisher Wes Mitchell and guest bloggers Leftover Hot Dog and Life of a Gamecock.

Please make sure you click their names and frequent their blogs too - you won't be disappointed.

Let's get down to it...


While South Carolina's defense should manage to hold Arkansas in check to an extent, it seems likely that 14 points of offense isn't going to win this game. What does the defense need to hold Arkansas to for them to have a chance and why?


PORTER: As good as the South Carolina defense has been this season, they will not keep Arkansas from moving the ball down the field. What the defense has to do all night is do what it did against Georgia early in the game. When Arkansas moves down the field, the Gamecock defense must stand tall in the red zone and hold the Razorbacks to field goals. If Arkansas puts it in the end zone every time they enter the red zone, there's no way the Gamecock offense will keep up. Turnovers would help too.

MITCHELL: I think 21 points is the threshold they need to hold Arkansas to Saturday. Obviously, scoring 14 points against a team like Arkansas isn't going to get the job done very often but this offense should be able to manage three touchdowns and a field goal against an Arkansas defense that has struggled at times. South Carolina needs to hang around and find a way to win it in the end.

LOHD: Quarterback Tyler Wilson leads the top-ranked passing offense gaining 321.1 yards through the air, which is more than 70 yards better than any other school in the SEC. Wilson is one of the nation's best quarterbacks, as he has completed 175-of-297 passes for 2,327 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Wilson is averaging just one interception per 99 passes. Arkansas has three of the top 10 pass-catchers in the Southeastern Conference this year. Jarius Wright leads the league averaging 101.3 yards per game. Joe Adams comes in eighth in the conference with 56.6 yards per game and Cobi Hamilton 10th at 47.2 yards per game. Safe to say that USC must pressure quarterback Tyler Wilson all day and rely on the USC pass defense to play like a champion with tight coverage. It will be tough but it is doable.

LIFE: The Gamecocks need to keep the Arkansas offense under 21 points. I believe Arkansas' defense is capable of giving up points to lesser teams like Ole Miss, who scored 24, and Vanderbilt, who scored 28 points. Both of those offenses have struggled this year so the Gamecocks should be able to produce similar results. I believe South Carolina has more playmakers in Bruce Ellington, Alshon Jeffery, and Connor Shaw than those two mentioned teams. USC stands a chance if they hold Arkansas to three touchdowns or less.


What is the biggest key for the offense to meet the above mentioned ‘goal?'


PORTER: Two things; ball control and field position. The best way to stop the Arkansas offense is to keep them on the sidelines. It would obviously be great to have another 11-minute drive like last week against Tennessee, it won't necessarily take that. A successful run game and not turning the ball over will be the best defense the Gamecocks will play all night.

MITCHELL: Pound the ball early. Arkansas is susceptible to the run up the middle. And South Carolina is going to need the running game to take some pressure off its tackles and open up the passing game. Arkansas is likely to bring a defender into the box very early to try and stop the run -- South Carolina needs to show they can pound it anyway.

LOHD: Arkansas doesn't match up well against the run, however, which could present some problems for them on defense. They rank 89th in the country in rushing defense, whereas Carolina ranks in the Top 25 in rushing offense, second in the SEC, averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground. Brandon Wilds is a key player on offense for the ‘Cocks. If he can find success on the ground, which he should, it will open up things for the passing attack for Connor Shaw. The Hogs rank 44th nationally in passing yards allowed per game (208). That could be just enough for USC to escape with a win.

LIFE: I think the biggest key for the offense is to find a rhythm in the passing game. You have to believe Brandon Wilds, Connor Shaw, and Bruce Ellington will be able to move the football on the ground but the passing game can open things up even more for the Gamecocks. It's been a struggle all year long and the quarterback issues combined with the troubles on the offensive line have been the downfall of a potential potent passing attack. I think being able to move the ball effectively through the air will allow for more variety in the playcalling and be a harder game for Arkansas to defend against on Saturday.


Who's a player other than the obvious ones that needs to have a big day Saturday?


PORTER: I'm going to go with the duo of Marty Markett/C.C. Whitlock. If Stephon Gilmore is successful in holding down his side of the field, Bobby Petrino is going to attack the other side of the field. Markett and Whitlock must not get beat and must keep everything in front. Victor Hampton could fit in here too.

MITCHELL: Let me throw out the entire special teams. Those units have been pretty quiet as of late. South Carolina needs some nice returns and no negative plays from special teams.

LOHD: Just like my pick last week it is Travian Robertson and the middle of the defensive line. They must get the push and plug the holes. Robertson played great last week against the UT Vols and he needs to duplicate that effort so that the Razorbacks can not establish the run nor double team the likes of Clowney or Taylor coming off the edge.

LIFE: Can I say the entire offensive line? I'll go ahead and say that Rokevious Watkins is going to need to be big for the Gamecocks this weekend. He could be matched up against one of the SEC's best defensive end in Jake Bequette. Watkins will need to keep Connor Shaw's blind side safe and some solid blocking from Watkins could go a long way to giving Shaw enough to throw the football down the field.


While this will be the lesser talked about top ten matchup in college football Saturday, top ten wins on the road have been extremely hard to come by in South Carolina history. Where would a win rank in Carolina history if the Gamecocks can pull it out?


PORTER: It would be a top 10 win without a doubt. Depending on how Carolina would finish the season out – namely winning out and having a shot at the BCS Championship – it could vault this game into the top 5, maybe even the top three. Obviously the win over Alabama last year will be #1, and a potential win over #1 LSU/Alabama in the Championship game would be #1, but this win could be right there behind those two in my opinion.

MITCHELL: It probably won't be put up there for some because if South Carolina wins it probably will have won another "ugly" one -- that win over Bama last year wasn't only the biggest in school history but it had some "pretty" elements to it too. This one would lose some cool points but considering it's on the road, against a top ten opponent and would set up USC in excellent shape to represent the East in the Championship game for the second straight year, it would have to be right up there with any win in the programs history.

LOHD: Certainly top five in my book as this could be one of those games that again changes the mindset of the football program. It will help continue the march to a repeat in the SEC East, it is a top ten win, it is a road win and it is a potential win for the "New Carolina."

LIFE:I think this win would be up there in the list of top wins in Gamecock football because of its importance. The Gamecocks need this win to keep the SEC East dreams alive and can't afford to fall behind in the race and depend on other teams to knock off the Georgia Bulldogs. USC can prove they can beat all odds by winning this game without Marcus Lattimore, Stephen Garcia, and all the other issues they've had this season. It also would give the Gamecocks their sixth win in the SEC for the first time in school history. It's a pretty important game.


What's the single biggest key to South Carolina winning this game?


PORTER: Turnover battle. South Carolina cannot go into a hostile crowd against a top 10 team and lose the turnover battle. If they don't win the turnover battle or at least break even, they will not win this game.

MITCHELL: Pressure with the front four. Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas offense showed last year just how much they can rip a defense to shreds when given time as they dominated South Carolina. Arkansas is such a vertical passing team that you have to pick your blitzing spots very carefully or you'll give up the big play. That highly touted front four needs to have its marque game if the Gamecocks are going to win this one.

LOHD: Mistake free football is the biggest key. The Gamecocks need to take care of business and do not do anything that hurts the cause. No stupid flags, bad throws or any of the sorts. Execution of the game plan is critical to this win.

LIFE:I believe the biggest key to winning this game would be for South Carolina to control the clock and keep Arkansas' offense off the field. Arkansas has a quick strike attack on offense and their passing attack can pick up yards and points in a hurry. If the Gamecocks are able to control the line of scrimmage and dominate up front with a strong running game then I think they've got a chance to pull out the victory.


PREDICTION?


PORTER: Through the first eight games of the season, I have yet to predict South Carolina to lose. That will change this week. The biased fan in me wants to say Carolina will just find a way to win because that is what they have done all season, but the unbiased journalist in me says it just will not happen. Arkansas has too much firepower right now and Carolina does not. Hogs win 28-17

MITCHELL: There's a lot of reasons to believe Arkansas will win this one. Those have been well-documented. But there's just something about this South Carolina team. And I don't think this Arkansas team is near the caliber of the one I saw in Columbia last year. Gamecocks find a way -- 24-21.

LOHD: USC will win in a close battle that will have to be done with a late second-half rally. USC's kicker better be ready as he will be needed to help the Gamecocks win this Top 10 matchup by the score of 20-17.

LIFE:This game was my one loss in my preseason prediction and my gut is still calling it a loss for me right now. I'm thinking the score will be 27-17 with Arkansas on top. I think the defense gives an inspired performance all night long and the offense looks better than it has in weeks. I think this one is close in the fourth but a late turnover by the Gamecocks gives Arkansas to little edge they need to pull out the win. I do believe, though, that the Gamecocks have enough to win this game and if the defense can create several turnovers from Arkansas, change the field position and give the offense a few extra opportunities then the chance for victory increases for the Gamecocks. It should be a good game.


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