On the road again
After being home for one week, the Gamecocks are back on the road this week to start a 3 week stretch of away games. This week starts with the always competitive Arkansas Razorbacks. The Razorbacks come into this week’s matchup with a 3-3 record, but even on their down years, they always give the Gamecocks a challenge. After the way the Gamecocks have played in the 4th quarter this year, there is definitely a reason to be concerned about a potential upset. But the Gamecocks look to have a shakey secondary and make a strong push into the second half of the season.
After starting out the season 3-0 the Razorbacks have gone 0-3 in the last three weeks losing to Rutgers, Texas A&M, and Florida. The loss to Florida last week was their weakest offensive contest yet to date as they only scored 10 points against the Gators. There will be a more vested interest in this game as it is Homecoming week in Fayetteville, and their fan base is fired up about the potential to upset the Gamecocks.
Running back Alex Collins enters this week’s matchup leading the SEC in total rushing yards at 651 and is ranked 4th in average yards per game at 108.5. If he can get going he will give the Gamecocks defense a tough time as they have shown great weakness against the run so far this year. On the other side of the ball Chris Smith is creating chaos for opposing offenses by leading the SEC in sack yards, total sacks, and tackles for loss. The Gamecocks offensive line will have a huge battle on their hands to try and keep Smith away for Connor Shaw and his questionable shoulder.
Carolina’s offense has worked very efficiently so far this season. They have cut down on costly turnovers that have plagued them in years past and found a great running back in Mike Davis. The philosophy of when in doubt give the ball to Mike has proved to be the best offensive strategy along with Connor and Dylan both being efficient when passing the ball.
Unlike in years past, we can no longer rely on the defense to make the big plays so the offense has to protect the ball and put points on the board, especially after seeing the 4th quarter collapses by the defense this year. All year the defense has struggled and it is still yet to be determined what the cause is. Per many sources it seems that players are content to “rest on their laurels” from previous years' successes. That coupled with the constant distraction of Jadeveon Clowney and the coaches publicly bickering and in one instance, fighting on the sideline, it appears that Lorenzo Ward needs to rebuild his once terrifying defense.
This game is going to be close and will probably come down to a big special teams play. The Gamecocks will need to rely on Davis to find the holes and score early, hopefully building a big enough lead that the defenses 4th quarter collapse won’t cost them the game.
Final Score: South Carolina 30, Arkansas 27
Post written by Gamecock Girl Sports Bloggess, Lauren Rippy.