Practice Report: Offensive line the key

South Carolina's offensive line will be key to a strong performance and potential win for the Gamecocks. The Gamecocks are ready for the challenges Clemson's defense will bring this Saturday night in this heated rivalry matchup.

South Carolina's offensive line has been under a ton of scrutiny from all angles over the years.

This weekend will be no different as the Gamecocks' offensive line will need to perform at a high level in order to give Connor Shaw the protection needed to sit back in the pocket and make all the necessary throws in Saturday's matchup.

Clemson's defense has given up 400 yards or more in five games this year and over 300 yards in nine games this year. Still, the Clemson defense will provide a challenge for the Gamecocks according to offensive lineman A.J. Cann.

"They're a good group defensively overall," Cann said Wednesday night. "Defensive line is pretty good. They're just like all the defenses in the SEC, they've got a real good defensive line."

Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley leads the team in sacks this year with eight sacks with teammate Malliciah Goodman behind him with three this year. These two players will certainly be a concern for the Gamecocks as Shawn Elliott mentioned on Wednesday night after practice as well as some other thoughts on the Clemson defense.

"They're real similar to like they were a year ago. They're giving up some points. They've got a decent d-line, good linebacker core, secondary is kind of beat up in some positions. They present a challenge. They've got good defensive ends that can get after you. They've got pretty active inside tackles."

Most big-time football games are won up front thanks to the offensive lines and that's something Elliott can agree upon. He believes the outcome of the game will likely be because of the offensive line play even though the most talked about matchup has been the Clemson offense versus the South Carolina defense.

"We've got to play well that's the bottom line. You can bill it their offense versus our defense, so to speak, but we all know it's going to be won between probably both offensive lines Saturday night so we'll see how we do."

Elliott echoed those thoughts in more detail on Wednesday night when asked if his offensive line can do better.

"Sure. You can always play better, I don't think there's any question about that. I think we're going to go out there with a little different mindset than what we had a week ago, and that's not taking anything away from Wofford they're a fine football team, but there's going to be some juices flowing Saturday night that haven't been flowing in awhile and I'm ready to see it."

As you can see, Coach Elliott expects a little more emotion out of his group on Saturday night. One would expect to see that as much talk as this game receives all year long. Fans from both universities want this win, and so do the players.

South Carolina's offense may not have the accolades the defense has but Coach Elliott knows his team will be prepared and ready to handle their business on Saturday night.

"People are going to figure out what it's billed after the game. People can write articles about what they want. I think we've got a capable offense of going up there and doing some great things. I know what type of defense we got, so how it plays out we'll see, but we're going business as usual, we're not really worried about attention or anything like that and we'll see where it plays out Saturday night. "

Post-Practice Notes

-Coach GA Mangus said Connor Shaw practiced Wednesday night for the first time this week. Mangus said he "threw it around a little bit tonight." He did indicate Shaw moved around much better on Wednesday then he has but they will wait and see how he does tomorrow before making a determination on his status for Saturday. Mangus called Shaw a "tough kid" and that he commended him for what he's done this season.

-Mangus also said if Shaw is unable to go, Dylan Thompson will be ready to step in aas his replacement. "Dylan's a little sneakier running around than people give him credit for," said Coach Mangus. Thompson has received most of the reps the last few days and that he threw it well on Wednesday.

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