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September 8, 2012

Gamecock Sports: Game Prediction - USC vs. East Carolina

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South Carolina v. East Carolina Prediction: Can the Gamecocks settle down after a shaky start?

The good news for Carolina fans, after a rough start in Nashville, we get to come home to Williams-Brice for our home opener with the new video board that looks to be twice the size of the old one. The bad news, East Carolina is meeting us here.

As all Gamecock faithful remember, East Carolina is no pushover. Last year with high hopes, much like this season, the Gamecocks marched into Charlotte and by the end of the first quarter many were ready to head for the hills with their tails between their legs. Enter Stephen Garcia to save the day after a miserable start from Connor Shaw. Fast forward a Connor Shaw will perform is again up for debate, but this time it’s due to injury not inexperience. Unfortunately this time around there will be no Garcia on the sideline to come in and save the day if Shaw cannot play.

So despite the griping, Carolina will kick-off their home opener at the dreaded 12:21pm time slot in the famously hot Columbia, SC.

Reasons East Carolina May Win:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned being a lifelong football fan it is to NEVER overlook anyone on the schedule. East Carolina is hoping that the Gamecocks have been so worried about Connor Shaw’s shoulder that they’ve overlooked this weekend’s matchup. Regardless of the status of the Gamecocks quarterback, East Carolina is perfectly capable of winning this game in their own right.

Last week’s showing against Appalachian State proved that ECU has the ability to score points and score points quickly on special teams. Lance Ray is a very dangerous kick returner and as he showed against the Mountaineers last weekend, a few missed tackles can easily result in 6 points with his speed and agility. If the Pirates can make a play on special teams or, at the very least give their offense good starting field position, there’s no question that they can leave Columbia with a huge upset win. Much like the one they collected last time they visited Williams-Brice in 1999.

Reasons South Carolina May Win:
Let’s be honest, South Carolina has something no other team in the nation has: Marcus Lattimore. Just like last year, if the Gamecocks plan to win this game it will be on the shoulder pads of Lattimore. After missing the last 6 games of last year Marcus showed no residual effects from that time away after a very uncharacteristic fumble to start the Vanderbilt game. On Saturday with Connor Shaw’s status still very questionable, it will be on the shoulders of Lattimore and the Carolina defense to win this game.

If South Carolina can find the end zone at least once and the special teams unit does their job then the defense should be able to take care of the rest. After last week’s game I honestly believe that USC can ride their defense through this season. As long as whoever is playing quarterback can efficiently hand the ball off to Marcus Lattimore and the rest of the tailbacks, then we should be able to buy enough time for Shaw to get healthy before SEC play begins.

In the end…

I believe that regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Garnet and Black the Gamecocks will come out on top of this game...but it will not be easy. As it always seems to be the case with many of the FCS teams Carolina plays, this will not be the blowout that the forever faithful would love to see. Instead it will be a hard fought game won in the third quarter much like last year’s matchup in Charlotte.

ECU - Special teams
USC - Quarterback play


Written by Gamecock Girl's Sports Bloggess Lauren Hall

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