What to Watch for: Florida Atlantic

In this new feature, GamecockAnthem.com takes a special inside look at the "game within the game" with several story lines for you follow during the Gamecocks' match-up with FAU Saturday night. With so much taking place throughout the course of a game it can be a daunting task to keep up with everything. This will provide you with several things to keep an eye on and look out for Saturday.

Who will step up on the interior?

The South Carolina Gamecocks will be in a tough spot on the interior of their defensive line as Ladi Ajiboye is still suspended and fifth-year senior Nathan Pepper is out with a sprained ankle. Redshirt sophomore Melvin Ingram is also playing with a banged up ankle and a heavy heart due to the loss of his grandmother. Ingram, usual starter Travian Robertson and redshirt freshman Kenny Davis will make up what will mainly be a three-man rotation on the interior.

How will Ingram and Davis step up? Ingram has had distractions all week, but will be making his first start as a Gamecock and will no doubt be excited about that. The Rockingham, NC native is one of the strongest players on the team and has all the potential in the world. He has also shown flashes in the first two games of the season.

Davis was outmanned physically against Georgia, but may be a better match-up with a smaller, less talented FAU offensive line. While he may not be ready for the rigors of the SEC right now, he is a player the USC staff was high on when he was recruited out of Newberry HS.

If Ingram and Davis step up given their newly found major minutes of playing time, then the Gamecocks will be just fine up front against the Owls. But if one or both struggle then that will force Ellis Johnson to use more three-man fronts - something he can do but doesn't prefer to utilize.

In an emergency, converted offensive lineman Steven Singleton or converted defensive end Chaz Sutton could see minutes as well.

How will Garcia follow up last week's performance?

Redshirt sophomore signal-caller Stephen Garcia threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns completing 31 of his 53 attempts in last week's loss at Georgia. But Gamecock quarterbacks have shown a tendency in the past to follow up great performances with poor games.

The key for Garcia will be not to "press," and just let the game come to him as he did in Athens. Garcia has gone about business in all the right ways this week in practice, according to sources, and should be ready to bounce back and play well for the second week in a row.

If Garcia stays focused and plays well then it would lead to a big victory by the Gamecocks and be another huge sign of progress for the talented passer.

Will the Gamecocks play down to their opponent?

The time for USC to pound a team into submission is here as it would be a big sign of progress for a young team to keep its focus and earn a big victory in the first home game of the season. The players appear to be over last Saturday's heartbreak and ready to play for the home crowd, but they will have to prove that on the field.

An early sign as to if the Gamecocks are focused or not will come in the early parts of the contest. The players will no doubt be excited about the first game of the year in Williams Brice Stadium, and it will be an easy time for them to lose focus and get caught up in the atmosphere early on. An early score and early stop from the defense would be a big positive sign.

How many young players will play?

The Gamecocks are already playing as many young players as any team in the country, but they hope to play even more Saturday night.

The first two "new" guys off the bench will likely be redshirt freshman running back Kenny Miles and true freshman wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. Look for those two on the field early and possibly often.

Tight ends coach Jeep Hunter has also mentioned wanting to get true freshman Justice Cunningham on the field.

Freshman boundary safety DeVonte Holloman has played snaps in each of the first two games, but will likely see his most extensive action yet with senior starter Darian Stewart banged up. If the Gamecocks can get a lead on the Owls look for cornerback DJ Swearinger to get his first major action as a Gamecock.

Chaz Sutton is listed on the depth chart as a defensive tackle, but could see time at his more natural position, defensive end, if the situation allows it. There is also the chance that freshman boundary safety/SPUR Quin Smith, who originally looked like a sure redshirt, will play his first snaps as a Gamecock.

Can the Gamecocks get a push?

While the offensive line has shown improvement under offensive line coach/running game coordinator Eric Wolford, especially in the passing game, the unit has not managed to get a consistent push up front in the running game. The unit showed signs in the season opener against NC State, but struggled to get a push at all in week 2 against UGA.

While USC will obviously be out to win the game, look for them to work on establishing the run game, particularly in the red zone.

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