Five Keys to Victory against Ole Miss

Read inside as's Wes Mitchell takes a look at South Carolina's five keys to victory in Saturday's crucial SEC road matchup against the Ole Miss Rebels.

I. Contain Hardy and the Ole Miss d-line

There's no question the South Carolina offensive line has had its share of struggles this year, and they will have to bring their 'A' game against a very good Rebel defensive line on Saturday. That line is anchored by defensive end Greg Hardy, who led the SEC and tied for sixth nationally in sacks last season with 10. The defensive line's outstanding play had a large impact in the Rebels' huge upset win over the Florida Gators last week.

The Gamecocks have been able to move the ball for most of the year, but have stalled in the red zone way too much to be successful. A big reason for that downfall has been a lack of consistency pass blocking and a lack of any push at all in the running game. At the very least the o-line will have to consistently keep Hardy out of the backfield and give the Gamecock quarterbacks some time to throw. Then even if the line isn't getting a large push in the running game, the coaches will look to establish the run off the sprint draw.

II. Force Mistakes

Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead has proven he is a playmaker and a quarterback to be feared in the talent-rich SEC. In his first year of action with the Rebels, Snead has passed for 1029 yards and 8 touchdowns. The talented gun-slinger has also thrown 8 interceptions and is completing just 52.5 percent of his passes. That could play right into the hands of the USC defense. As good as that defense has been, they have struggled to produce turnovers at times. In a game that will likely be determined by a one-score margin, forcing a turnover or two by Snead could be the difference in winning or losing for the Gamecocks.

III. Capitalize on Drives

For whatever the reason the South Carolina offense has moved the ball up and down the field, but has struggled to score points this season. South Carolina still leads the SEC in first downs yet is 8th in scoring and total offense. That won't cut it if the offense wants to finally get on track. Turnovers, inconsistency and an overall lack of focus at times are all to blame, but the offense will have to begin to show some progress against the Rebels for the Gamecocks to leave Oxford with a win.

IV. Contain the Houston Nutt offense

The Rebels may not have a Darren McFadden to run their "wild rebel" formation, but that doesn't mean the defense won't have to be very aware of the offensive set. The Razorbacks ran up, down and around the Gamecocks last season, and you can bet Nutt will take many cues from last year's game plan on Saturday. As a whole, South Carolina has struggled to beat Nutt-coached teams, but containing formations like this one would go a long way towards changing that.

V. Win the Spurrier vs. Nix battle

There's no doubt the competitive juices will be flowing when Spurrier and his former defensive coordinator square off in a gridiron chess match this weekend. Spurrier knows Nix's tendencies and Nix knows Spurrier's, but you can bet there will be some added wrinkles on both sides. No matter what Spurrier or Nix say, Nix's tenure at South Carolina did not appear to end on the best of terms and he will no doubt be looking to prove something. This single storyline could also be the difference between victory and defeat.

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