South Carolina is coming off two straight losses against Top 10 opponents on the road.
This week, South Carolina has to prove that its road woes do not define the team as Tennessee comes to town.
This is a must win for the Gamecocks.
Tennessee brings its strong offense to take on South Carolina's even stronger defensive unit. If South Carolina can find a pulse on offense, it shouldn't be a close game.
That's a big if though.
The offense has looked lost these last few games after being almost impossible to stop the first half of the season.
The Gamecocks will need to do a few things correctly to place this game in the win column.
Tyler Bray is an excellent quarterback, but he's a standard drop back passer. South Carolina's defense will be able to send the front four without abandon. Jadeveon Clowney should be licking his chops to get out there against Tennessee's offense.
Tyler has thrown nine interceptions this year. He's capable of making some careless mistakes. The key will be the defensive pressure. Rattle Bray, and the game will be over quickly.
South Carolina's offense depends on the running of Marcus Lattimore. He only rushed three times for 13 yards against Florida and he only managed 35 yards against the LSU Tigers.
There is no chance for the Gamecocks if he can't get more done. The offensive line must step up and figure out a way to keep the holes opening up. If Tennessee's defense can get penetration Connor Shaw will have to beat them with his arm.
South Carolina caught a case of fumble-itis against Florida, and the only cure is more cowbell.
Or just solid technique. Whichever.
The truth is, Florida saw a weakness in the way the Gamecocks were holding on to the ball and they exploited that. The Gamecock offense isn't powerful enough to give up opportunities and Tennessee's potent offense needs no extra help.
Connor Shaw has looked like a shell of himself over the last two weeks. Once heralded as a potent dual-threat quarterback, Shaw looked more like a single threat quarterback against Florida and LSU. Too bad that threat was to the Gamecocks.
His costly interceptions and fumbles have been difference makers in games. They have also been uncharacteristic. He can do much better. It must start at Tennessee. This is the perfect game for Shaw to regain some of that lost magic.
South Carolina's offense was plagued by predictable play calling over the last two games. It's sad when a roomfull of fans know excatly what type of play the Gamecocks are running. If the fans know, you can bet the opposition knows.
It's been the same, week in and week out. It's time to adjust. The receivers have had success in the flats and in the middle of the field, and the Gamecocks didn't go there often in the past two defeats. There were alot of difficult sideline throws.
Keep Connor Shaw moving around and utilize the talented weapons that Gamecocks hold. The team can afford to be more creative than just running the ball up the middle a couple of times then air mailing a sideline pass.
I think that the Gamecocks will get back on track this week. A week Tennessee defense will feel like a breath of fresh air to the offense and they will find their grove. The Volunteers will struggle to score against a ticked off South Carolina defense.
South Carolina- 28