Gallo: K.I.S.S.

This one is a simple call. It is impossible if not ridiculous to compare the two teams position by position in the first game. However, if you know what to look for and where to look for it, you will walk away from this football game knowing a lot more about your Gamecocks ...

What To Watch For Tonight

Forget about what your opponent is going to do tonight. It does not matter. The only thing that matters in the first games of the season is what your team does.

In Steve Spurrier's case he will want to keep it simple. (K.I.S.S. 'Keep It Simple Stupid').

By no means does that mean you will not see a more exciting brand of football, on both sides of the line, this year. But what it does mean is that tonight's game against Central Florida may be painfully boring at times given the fact that, if Spurrier has his druthers, he will not have to show enough of his new system to really give anything away to Georgia for next week.

And keeping it simple has another advantage.

With so many youngsters taking the field for the Gamecocks tonight, it will be to their advantage to keep things simple enough for them to be successful, thus building their confidence.

Do not be surprised to see Spurrier keep it on the ground much of the night. So we will start there.

Look for Mike Davis and Bobby Wallace to share duties carrying the ball tonight. One of them will come out of this game with a leg up on the other in the battle for the long term starting job, but it may not become completely clear until the Georgia game next week. Spurrier will want to see his young backs hitting the holes hard and following their blocks and making the proper cuts past the line of scrimmage. It is as simple as that.

Spurruer will also expect his backs to block and pick up their assignments when Central Florida rushes and stunts - a job equally important as running the ball at this level. So there you are. Keep a sharp eye on Davis and Wallace. Are they hitting the holes fast and hard? Are they picking up their blocks on the drop backs? Are they bumping and running on the screens and the flairs?

Then comes the offensive line. Where is the pressure coming from? Is it around the ends or up the middle? Is the offensive line blowing holes open for the backs? Are the offensive linemen hustling downfield and continuing to block until the whistle? How many pancakes are you seeing? Is any one particular offensive lineman being beaten badly? Are any of them looking frustrated. You have to watch that body language. Offensive linemen will tell you everything with their body language. And where are the substitutions taking place? It will be mostly in the middle because they are going to expect Levey and Goddard to hang out there at the tackle spots.

Wide receivers? Not much to watch there. A few things though. Are they catching the balls that are catchable Are they blocking hard? Are they knocking people down? Are they beating the coverage? Are they getting off of the ball on the snap and staying with their routes? Remember, Spurrier's routes are all about timing. A wide receiver is asked to get off the line, get off the bump, and get to his predetermined position by the time the ball arrives. Easier said than done. So count the times when there are incompletions, and watch what Spurrier does from the sideline. If he goes for the WR then you know the wide receiver was not where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. If Spurrier throws a visor or yells and points out onto the field then you know it was his quarterback that probably made the mistake.

While we are on the subject of quarterbacks, let's take a look at what we need to see happen tonight from the signal callers' perspectives.

Blake Mitchell needs to call his team into the right plays. That means he'll have to audible and check them into a chance to be successful almost each and every play. Ok. He's going to come to the line, look over the opposing defense, decide if he needs to check out of the play called in the huddle, (although we almost expect Spurrier to go no-huddle very early on), and then execute that play.

Mitchell has to settle down early. No mistakes that might shake him until he gets his legs underneath him. A couple of early completions would help his cause immensely, but you never know. Cringe and shut your eyes if you see Mitchell going long on the opening play. Anything might happen. Even if Spurrier tries to make it easy on Mitchell by calling a couple of flairs out to the flats early on, Mitchell still has to execute them or pay the consequences. Watch Mitchell's body language too. It never changes. We'd prefer to see him a bit more animated quite frankly. Showing some emotion both on the good plays and the bad. We want to see Michell grabbing his offensive linemen by the facemask and daring them not to block. We want to see a leader out there.

Antonio Heffner. We would like to see him look for a second or third receiver before tucking the ball and running.

Cade Thomas. We would like to see him hit a receiver with the ball above the waist rather than around their ankles.

We want to see all of the quarterbacks make sound and intelligent decisions. We want to make sure that the QBs do not do anything to lose the game for the Gamecocks.

Kicking game, special teams, all that good stuff.

Spurrier wants to give them a lot of work today kicking the ball through the uprights. And it will happen too either with the extra points or with the field goals but these kickers are going to get five or six cracks at it tonight minimum.

Let's really focus on the coverage teams and make sure there are no major punt or kickoff returns for the opposition. Those can really be back-breakers that can lead to upsets if you are not careful.

On defense you want turnovers. You want the Gamecock defense to dominate tonight and pull-off and shutout if possible.

How is that defensive line looking? Are they getting penetration up the middle and causing disruptions in the Golden Knight backfield? Are the ends fending off blocks and sealing off the outside running game? Are they beating the blockers off the snap and getting pressure on the CFU QBs?

Are the Carolina linebackers plugging holes and covering running backs and tight ends at the same time? Are they taking on lead men out of the Knight's backfield and stuffing the run up the middle. In particular watch number 42 Ricardo Hurley to see what he is doing.

How many substitutions are they comfortable with making during the course of this game tonight? You should see a lot of defensive personnel going in and out of the game tonight. A lot of them.

Is the Carolina secondary as good as everyone has been saying? We think they are so let's watch them closely on third and long situations and see if they are taking care of their assignments and making it tough for CFU to get hot through the air. Word is that O'Leary is going to try to beat Spurrier at his own/old game tonight by testing the Gamecocks through the air. If so, we'll get to see just how good this secondary is in no time.

O'Leary is going to find his options very limited tonight. South Carolina's defense is very good.

O.K. - so we have what we need as far as the team itself goes. We know what to watch for and we know that what the Golden Knights might do means nothing to us at the moment. But it will mean something by the start of the second half.

Next thing to watch is how this coaching staff makes adjustments to begin the second half. Do they correct mistakes? Will they add wrinkles to take advantage of weaknesses they may have seen in the first half? Will they start different personnel at different positions than started the game? That one in particular is important in the opener because it usually signals a change in the lineup that could be long lasting.

How are these coaches responding to adversity? Are they keeping their players under control and focused? Are they coaching hard inbetween series or are they just standing their looking around and/or talking to individual players rather than entire positions or squads?

And finally, what is Steve Spurrier doing? Is he throwing his visor? Is he pacing the sidelines? Is he shaking his head?

Here is what you hope to see him doing on the sidelines tonight because it will mean that everything is going well. You want to see him holding a rolled up play sheet, clapping, and smacking players on their rumps as they run by him off the field. If you see that then Steve Spurrier is happy.

Of course there are other considerations to take into account such as limited turnovers by the good guys and forced turnovers by the bad guys.

Then there is the little ditty about not making big penalties that negate your key first downs and now making big penalties that give the other guys key first down.

Little stuff like that.

And remember. The biggest improvement you will see during the course of a season, is the improvement in a team from week one to week two. That is where your biggest leap will be had.

That's it for the first game folks. No position by position comparison of the two teams is needed. All you need to do is pay attention to what those young men in Garnet and Black are doing out there tonight. Try to isolate things as much as possible as we have suggested above and you will know what you've got heading into Georgia next week.

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