Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Feelin’ Cocky: Gamecocks Ready for ‘Bama
The ingredients were in place for an upset. Alabama would finally lose a regular season game for the first time since 2007.
South Carolina would have a bye week before facing Alabama, and the Crimson Tide would enter Williams-Brice Stadium “beaten and battered” after having colossal games against Arkansas and Florida…without time to rest and recover.
How have things panned out? Were all the “projections” fulfilled?
As expected, the contest with Arkansas was tough and came down to the wire. However, the huge showdown with the Florida Gators was nothing more than an exercise in basic fundamentals and domination.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will enter the contest against the Gamecocks with a perfect record and perched at the No. 1 position.
South Carolina on the other hand, will enter the game with one loss (at Auburn) and hold the No. 19 position in the AP top 25.
However, “certainly not astonishing” is the substance upsets are built upon.
The “order of ingredients” may have changed, but overall, this game was rightfully circled on the college football calendar.
From a defensive standpoint, the Gamecocks know what they need to do in order to limit the offensive production of Alabama.
Every college football coach, team and fan in the country knows what needs to be done in order to contain Alabama’s offense.
However, in traditional game preview fashion, let us “flip the field” and take a closer look at the South Carolina offense and the problems they could present for the Alabama defense.
At the quarterback position, the Gamecocks are led by Stephen Garcia. During his time in a South Carolina uniform, Garcia has been the hero…and also the target of ridicule.
In respect to a proper example, Stephen Garcia is the “quarterback version” of Les Miles. When he’s good…he's very good, but when he’s bad…he’s horrid.
On the 2010 season, Garcia has thrown for 743 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Gamecocks definitely do not operate a two-quarterback system, but backup Connor Shaw certainly brings a different dynamic to the offense.
Shaw can not only throw…he can run.
Shaw is only 12-of-18 on the season for 144 yards, but his presence against Alabama is certainly not out of the question.
On the ground, the Gamecocks are led by one of the most dynamic running backs in the nation…Marcus Lattimore.
Regarded as the top running back in the country as a high school senior, Lattimore has wasted little time in making the transition to major college football.
On the season, Lattimore has rushed for 366 yards and six touchdowns. The Carolina freshman also averages 4.4 yards per carry.
The ground game is certainly vital for Alabama, but a solid rushing attack is equally important, and possibly more so, for South Carolina.
If Lattimore is not effective, Stephen Garcia will have to go to the air more often and put the pressure on his receivers to make plays.
Thankfully for Garcia and the South Carolina offense, the Gamecocks have two of the best receivers in college football…Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley.
In respect to Alshon Jeffery, what more can be said?
The South Carolina wide receiver leads the SEC in receptions and receiving yards per game. Jeffery has caught 27 passes for 498 yards and two touchdowns this season. The South Carolina standout also averages 18.4 yards per reception.
Tori Gurley is the second leading receiver for the Gamecocks in 2010. Gurley has been on the receiving end of 12 passes for a total of 114 yards and two touchdowns.
The one thing Gurley and Jeffery have in common, other than amazing ability…is size! Jeffery stands 6-foot-4, 233 pounds and Gurley stands 6-foot-5, 230 pounds.
When a quarterback has tall and talented receivers, the “perfect pass” may not always be required.
The Alabama secondary will have to find a way to guard against fade
patterns…especially in the “red zone” area of the field.
However, for the third week in a row, the Crimson Tide defense must meet the challenge of another resourceful offensive team.
The Alabama offense is strong, proficient, and well-balanced.
However, as will be the case with the majority of SEC games this season, the final outcome will be determined by the Crimson Tide defense.
In a similar fashion to the Alabama/Arkansas contest, the atmosphere and crowd will unquestionably be “electric” at Williams-Brice Stadium.
The ingredients for an upset have been prepared, all South Carolina needs to do…is take the heat from the kitchen.
Posted by The Crimson Elephant at 12:04 PM