Five Keys to Victory against LSU

Read inside as's Wes Mitchell takes a look at South Carolina's five keys to victory in Saturday's primetime showdown against the LSU Tigers.

Make the Big Play

Throughout recent history the Gamecocks have had multiple chances to win big SEC contests and move the program past just being an afterthought in the SEC title race. Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks have been close to monumental wins many times, with one play here or there often costing them the game. Even this season all of South Carolina's SEC games have been decided by exactly 7 points each. Don't expect Saturday's showdown with the defending champion LSU Tigers to be any different. Both teams have extremely talented defenses, and the game will likely not be determined until late in the fourth quarter.

These are the games that are often determined by whichever team has a player or two step up and make a play when the team needs it most. History shows the Gamecocks haven't been great in this regard, but if there was ever a chance to change that, it is now.

No More Turnovers!

If the 2008 Gamecocks have had one major downfall to this point in the season, it would have to be an inability to hold onto the football. The Gamecocks lead the league in first downs, but have struggled to put up points due to inopportune turnovers.

Stephen Garcia will start for the first time in his college career, and while he has playmaking ability, he also could be prone to turning the ball over against a defense as talented as LSU's. Garcia, already a legend in the mind of many Gamecock fans, could begin writing his legacy if he leads the Gamecocks to victory over the defending champs in his first start. Keeping the ball in the garnet's hand would go a long way towards doing that.

Slow the running game

With an inexperienced quarterback and a stable of stud running backs in the backfield, the LSU offense lives and dies by its running game. While previous South Carolina defenses have struggled mightily even slowing its opponents in that category, Jasper Brinkley and Eric Norwood have made offenses think twice about pounding it up the middle against the Gamecocks. That's exactly what LSU is likely to do early, so how the Gamecocks respond to that demanding test could determine how the first half goes.

If the Tigers are able to be physical and pound the middle of the field, then that will open all kinds of passing lanes and allow the talented LSU tight ends and receivers to get open downfield. However, if the Gamecocks show they have improved in stopping the run, then that will allow the defense to further pressure the young LSU quarterbacks, possibly leading to freshman mistakes.

Get the old Succop back

All-SEC kicker Ryan Succop has been so good for the Gamecocks throughout his career that some have taken his ability for granted. Not too long ago all South Carolina field goals were an adventure, but with Succop, most inside 40 yards have been automatic up until last Saturday. Whether it was an abdominal strain that was worse than let on or Succop just had an off day, the Gamecocks need him back to win this SEC showdown. There's no doubt Ryan Succop is one of the most talented kickers to ever don the Garnet and Black, and he could be called on to take the most important kick of his life on Saturday night.

Find a little running room

There's no question the South Carolina running game has been downright awful to this point in the season, and the LSU Tigers' defense is usually not the one to mend those problems against. The Gamecocks are used to not having a running game, so a lack of one is not likely to throw off their game plan. However, just a few plays from the running game could do wonders for an offense that has shown an incredible ability to get players open in the passing game. This doesn't mean that just the offensive line has to step up against the talented Tiger front four, but the running backs have to do a better job of finding the hole and hitting it with a purpose.

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