Five Keys To Victory Against S.C. State
I. Stay Focused
In order to avoid the dreaded "trap game" after the emotional win over Georgia and with the LSU showdown looming, South Carolina will have to play with as much effort and intensity as they did in Athens on Saturday night. There is no doubt USC should win Saturday, but the Wofford game a year ago, as well as Appalachian State's week one upset victory in the Big House should be all the reminder that the players need that no win is guaranteed. One thing that makes Steve Spurrier great is he will treat the S.C. State week just the same as the LSU week, and the team should take on this week's game in business-like fashion.
II. Play Assignment-Football
Louisiana-Lafayette proved what a well run spread offense can do against a poor-tackling defense that doesn't play its assignments. Senior quarterback Cleveland McCoy brings similar athleticism to the table as Louisiana-Lafayette's Michael Desormeaux, and the S.C. State coaches undoubtedly will take some cues from the effective Lafayette spread read-option offense. Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix will likely use a 3-4 defense again with Nathan Pepper, Marque Hall, and Ladi Ajiboye playing with a hand down, and Eric Norwood standing up to roam the field. The Gamecocks may be fooled by misdirection a few times, but if they tackle as well as they did in Athens, it won't matter.
III. Continue to Improve on the Offensive Line
The offensive line has performed stronger so far this year than they did a year ago, but need to improve every week as the season progresses. For the Gamecocks to win convincingly, the line will have to continue to protect Blake Mitchell well and pave the way for the ground game. The line should have some extra motivation this week as Xavier Littleberry's comments about getting four sacks and "taking out" Blake Mitchell have made the internet and newspaper circuit.
IV. Make Special Teams Special Again
Despite the huge win at Georgia, Steve Spurrier was still legitimately upset and concerned about the play of his special teams. Spurrier has gone as far as putting some of his top players on special teams, including Cory Boyd, Mike Davis and Jasper and Casper Brinkley. The best case scenario for the Gamecocks is the starters play well, show the younger guys how its done and eventually give way to the younger players. However, if he has to, Spurrier will continue to play his starters on special teams.
In the return game, Captain Munnerlyn is electric with the ball in his hands, but needs to make better decisions and protect the football better in order to gain complete confidence from the coaching staff.
V. Put Them Away if the Opportunity Arises
Throughout Spurrier's tenure, South Carolina has often been able to jump out on weaker opponent early, but has usually failed to put the opponent away. The longer S.C. State is allowed to stick around, the more confident they will be in their chances to pull the upset. It would be a big step as a program to come out and dominate S.C. State early and never give them a chance. The earlier USC can put them away, the better off they will be for next week.
Extra Credit: Get the Young Receivers Reps
While this can't justifiably be called a "Key to Victory," South Carolina needs another playmaker to step up at receiver. The young receivers have yet to get any significant playing time, and this will be the perfect opportunity for one of those guys to step up and earn playing time for the rest of the season. All of the young guys should get a chance, and if one could emerge as a real threat, it could be huge going into South Carolina's Top 20 showdown in Baton Rouge.
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