South Carolina Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. East Carolina

Alex RobertsCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2012

South Carolina Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. East Carolina

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    Here come the Pirates in Week 2 to challenge the South Carolina Gamecocks.  The Gamecocks are at home and hope that some home cooking is in order. 

    How do you cook a Pirate, you may ask? 

    I dunno.

    Sexy-like?

    South Carolina has a great deal of work to do in order to reach the lofty expectations of the Old Ball Coach and fanbase.  This is the week to start. 

    Here are the five keys to a South Carolina victory. 

    For more detailed information on both teams, please see my "Complete Week 2 Game Review of East Carolina Versus South Carolina."

1. Better Pass Protection

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    I don't care what quarterback is playing in this game.  The offensive line must pass protect better. 

    With ECU's four wide receiver sets, you're going to see a lot of passes, with the potential for a lot of scoring.  South Carolina must be able to pass the football effectively.

    Last week, the offensive linemen were solid at moving people off of the ball on running plays, but not passing.  There needs to be an improvement this week.

2. Make Rio Johnson Uncomfortable in the Pocket

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    Rio Johnson has yet to see a defensive line like South Carolina's, even during the games he played towards the end of the season last year. 

    Johnson has shown sparks of being good, but he is no Dominique Davis, who made waves and is playing for the Atlanta Falcons this year.  

    If the defensive line can dominate, this game will get ugly. 

3. Unleash Marcus Lattimore

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    This is a great game to get Marcus Lattimore truly going. 

    In his first week back after his season-ending injury, he earns the SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. 

    This week, against ECU's porous 3-4 defense, he could have career numbers. 

    The Head Ball Coach should rely on him a great deal on Saturday.

4. Play Disciplined in the Defensive Backfield

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    Many of the big plays last week against Vandy came from corners and safeties trying to either destroy the pass-catcher or intercept the ball. 

    Usually, they attempted this when they had no help behind them.

    This just can't happen again.

5. Improve Play-Calling

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    I never disrespect Coach Spurrier, and I never will. 

    However, last week's game against Vanderbilt was one of the more puzzling games I've ever seen. 

    Why bring Mike Davis in for one carry and burn a redshirt opportunity?  Why not hand the ball off to Marcus Lattimore when it's obvious Dylan Thompson needed to settle down?  

    I just didn't understand it.  He's obviously a better football mind than me, so I trust his judgement—but I think this game needs to be tighter in this regard as well. 

My Prediction

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    I initially called this game 42-28, but I really could see it being closer. 

    The combination of Shaw's injury (whether or not he plays) and the fact that all of the defensive backs need to play well could keep this even closer. 

    But I'll stick with my original score.  No way the Pirates come into Columbia and beat the Gamecocks.

    South Carolina 42, East Carolina 28