5 predictions: Tennessee edition

For the second year, over the course of the season, I will be making five predictions for each of the South Carolina football games. Some may be bold, some may be safe, some may be right on target. This week we take a look at Saturday's game with Tennessee.

1. Connor Shaw gets back on track

This is just what Shaw needs. After struggling the last two weeks in two of the most hostile environments in the country against two of the top defenses in the country, Shaw and the Gamecocks return home this week to take on a Tennessee team that is dreadful defending the pass. Shaw has been very efficient and good at home, as evidenced by his performance against Georgia three weeks ago. Look for that same dink and dunk Shaw that gets five yards here and six yards there, then breaks open a 20+ yarder. I say Shaw breaks the 200-yard mark this week and throws a touchdown pass. He'll also get back on track with his legs and rush for 50-60 yards and add a touchdown on the ground.

2. Defense ‘affects' Bray

It's not all about sacks for Lorenzo Ward and the South Carolina defense. Though they lead the conference in sacks by a wide margin, Ward is more concerned with affecting the quarterback than actually getting to him every play. Tennessee has only given up three sacks so getting to Bray will be difficult. However, they will be looking to get in his throwing lanes, get their hands up to bat some balls down, and make Bray throw it a little sooner than he wants to. They will get to Bray for one sack, but will force him into bad throws as Bray has a dreadful night.

3. Secondary picks two

The beneficiaries of the defensive line affecting Bray and forcing him to have a bad night is the Carolina secondary. They have proven more often than not that if they get a chance to pick off a pass they will do so. Bray has proven in recent weeks that he is vulnerable to throw interceptions and the pressure from the Carolina defensive line will force Bray into throwing up two picks. Don't be surprised if Justin Worley is tossed into the game at some point.

4. Special teams bounce back

There's no need to beat around the bush. Special teams cost Carolina a win last week. They were dominated by Florid on special teams and served up two touchdowns in less than a minute. They face a seriously talented returner in Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson. As long as they can keep Patterson from busting one on kickoffs then they should bounce back this week. Ace Sanders won't fumble this week and Bruce Ellington won't return a kick he shouldn't. The special teams will perform much better this week against the Vols. After all, they can't do much worse.

5. Ride the Lattimore train

The running game has been non-existent the last two weeks. This offense cannot be successful without its running game. Running backs coach Everette Sands said the plan is get Marcus rolling, and I think they do that. Marcus may not eclipse the 100-yard mark, but he gets close. 95+ yards and a pair of scores.


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