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...
South Carolina's big win over Georgia is the first in a stretch of three-straight top 10 teams the Gamecocks will face including this weekend's game against LSU. What should the focus be in practice this week to prepare for this game?
PORTER: Offensively, the focus had to be to stay on the field and sustain drives. Florida won by wearing the LSU defense down. The o-line needs to have another great performance. Defensive, it is just the opposite. The defense has to get off the field on third down and get the ball back to the offense. The more the Gamecock offense is on the field, the better their chances for a huge win.
GARRETT: The focus in practice this week should have been to continue to get better. It's a theme you hear from the staff and players each week. South Carolina knows they are capable of big things but need to remain focused on the task at hand. This is one of the toughest stretches of games in college football. It's not easy getting to the top but this weekend's game against LSU can be another notch in the belt of the Gamecocks.
LOHD: To keep playing at the level the Gamecocks are capable of. The next stretch of games is really about mental toughness as we have seen that the Gamecocks have the talent. They also are well-coached and now it is time to keep the business like mentality. From every game out, it is about taking care of business. The coaches need to work to keep the Gamecocks grounded and in tune with what needs to be accomplished.
MLS: The focus should be focused on the offense. In the end, I think this comes down to a defensive battle and it might require us pulling a few tricks out of the hat. I thought we might see some of those tricks last week, but after opening 21-0 in the first quarter, there was no need and it would it would serve the team a better purpose in this game.
LSU's Les Miles is 17-1 in games following a loss. What does South Carolina need to do to pull out the victory on Saturday night?
PORTER: Regardless of the stats you look at, South Carolina has the odds stacked against them. Whether it be coming off a loss, coming off a loss with a home game, or just the fact that it is a night game in Baton Rouge the odds are against South Carolina. With that said, if Carolina can control the clock and avoid the turnover they should be able to escape with a win.
GARRETT: The odds are in no one's favor at LSU in a night game. South Carolina needs to dominate the line of scrimmage like they did against UGA. Bring pressure on LSU's offense and make sure their own offensive line can get push against the LSU front four. A strong running game can go a long way to helping USC win. It worked last week for the Gators and something tells me Marcus Lattimore has the ability to take over this game.
LOHD: Take the UGA win and repeat it. Maybe that is too simple but really this game boils down to who wins the trench battles and capitalizes off the other's mistakes. For USC, it is about having a strong offensive line and a defensive line that continues to be the best in the nation. Combine that with no miscues and the Gamecocks will win.
MLS: Remain confident. They know now that they can hang with the best of them. But going on the road into Baton Rouge, perhaps the most hostile college football environment in the country is a HUGE test. A less talented LSU team is still very capable of putting together a win, simply because of the energy of being at home and riding that out.
LSU's record at night in Tiger Stadium is 225-60-4 since 1960. Can South Carolina withstand this intense environment this weekend?
PORTER: It is going to be extremely hard. We all saw last week what an intense crowd can do for the home team. What it was like in Williams-Brice is how it is at every night game in Death Valley. It is going to take solid football all around with limited mistakes to pull it off.
GARRETT: Coach Spurrier mentioned that this team has played in tough environments before. The team has the right leadership and the right collection of players to be able to withstand an atmosphere like LSU's. They'll need to play focused and not let the crowd noise get in their head.
LOHD: I feel they can. The offense may not be heavy in the audible arena this week so the burden is on Connor Shaw to make sound decisions. And if Steve Spurrier cannot be under center than the next best thing is Shaw in the "good decision-making" category. USC is likely to be heavy on the run this week so it boils down to blocking and breaking tackles.
MLS: They can if they remain focused and keep the confidence from what they did to Georgia. UGA by far is a better team than LSU. On paper, the Gamecocks can do it, it's just a matter of being able to play over the noise and energy. Georgia wasn't up to the task in the Columbia and the Gamecocks need to be aware how quick the game can go south if they aren't prepared.
Connor Shaw has been extremely efficient these last three weeks throwing for 41-of-49 passes with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Is this something that can continue against this tough LSU defense?
PORTER: Shaw admitted that LSU is too fast on defense for him to constantly pull the ball down and run. Shaw is going to have to take chances because it is going to be difficult for him to find somebody so wide open as some of his receivers have been the last few weeks. Shaw can still put up some impressive numbers this week, but I don't think it will be as impressive as they have been.
GARRETT: There will likely be some opportunities in the passing game for Connor Shaw. LSU has a fast, physical defense that will be primed to stop the run. Shaw's mobility will play a factor but he may be asked to make more throws than he has in recent weeks. If he's able to connect at the rate he has been, this could be huge for the Gamecocks.
LOHD: Yes. As long as the USC Gamecocks continue to execute the game plan it will not put the team nor the quarterback in desperation mode. Continue to focus on short passes, good runs and moving the chains.
MLS: This is Connors type of game. He's going to be counted on to elude big Sam Montgomery and the angry cajuns on the defense. Connor will have to be able to roll out and improvise if needs to. The offensive line has been playing really well and they are going to have to play at that level again this week in order for Connor Shaw to have a manageable game.
LSU has had eight turnovers in the last three games against Auburn, Towson and Florida. What can the South Carolina defense do to force turnovers this weekend?
PORTER: The biggest thing to help the South Carolina defense has already happened. LSU's o-line has been decimated by injuries and one other has left the team this week. LSU will have a patchwork, inexperienced offensive line. Ask Aaron Murray what happens with an inexperienced line against this defense. If Carolina can get pressure on Mettenberger, he will make mistakes. If they stop the run game and put LSU in obvious passing situations then they can force several more turnovers.
GARRETT: South Carolina's defensive line has been given some help this week with the shaky LSU offensive line situation. While talented, it's hard for an offensive line to come together when there is a constant switch of players in and out. If Clowney and Sutton can take advantage, they can get to Mettenberger in a hurry. A few big hits could cause a fumble or an errant throw. South Carolina just needs to make sure they have some sound tackling and not allow LSU to break free for big gains. They do that and good things can happen.
LOHD: Tackle well and hit hard. The Gamecocks will be one of the most aggressive defensive units that the Tigers face. I think that will translate into good things for USC in this game.
MLS: The exact same approach of last week, which has been the running theme… Unleash Jadeveon. If Clowney can pressure Mettenberger he's going to force the in experienced QB to make some bad decisions.
LSU is only allowing 98.5 yards per game on the ground while the Gamecocks are averaging 181.5 yards rushing. Will Lattimore and Shaw be the key to success this weekend for the Gamecocks?
PORTER: Absolutely. Carolina must wear down the LSU defense like Florida did. It probably won't be there early, but it will be key for Steve Spurrier to stick with it. He's been known to throw it to the side if it isn't working. If they keep at it and keep pounding it at the LSU defense, they will eventually wear the Tigers down.
GARRETT: As big as South Carolina's passing game may be this week, the running game could be what drives their success. Lattimore comes to play in big games and having him healthy and ready to go, coming off that performance last week, should help the Gamecocks draw in the LSU defense allowing Shaw to hit a deep ball or two for big gains. Everything is contingent on the running game though so it's important for Shaw and Lattimore to have really good performances on Saturday night.
LOHD: I feel certain that the Gamecocks are ready and the Shaw/Lattimore duo is prepared to take care of business. I have a feeling that this is the game that Marcus Lattimore inserts himself in the Heisman talk.
MLS: Absolutely on the offensive side of the ball. Connor and Marcus have to play their games and the playcall has to allow for that. I don't anticipate a ton of points and expect this to be more a battle in the trenches and these are the two pieces of our offense that have to be running on all cylinders.
PORTER: This is going to be a knockdown, drag out battle. It will come down to turnovers, field position, and time of possession. If Carolina can wear down LSU's defense, they can win. Carolina wins 13-10.
GARRETT: If you like to see two good defenses go at it, this is your football game. The edge, though, appears to be on South Carolina's side with the play of Connor Shaw and Marcus Lattimore. That combination, along with a big return from Ace Sanders, should give the Gamecocks just enough to overcome the atmosphere and come away with a win. Gamecocks win 21-17.
LOHD: Look for the Gamecocks to replicate the win from last week and stuff LSU from the moment go. The Gamecocks will win this game with a 24-13 win as Lattimore gets two of those scores.
MLS: 17-10 Gamecocks in a low scoring, defensive game.