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SEC Football Q&A: What Needs to Happen for South Carolina to Get to Atlanta?

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SEC Football Q&A: What Needs to Happen for South Carolina to Get to Atlanta?
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South Carolina QB Connor Shaw

Every Thursday on The SEC Blog, we feature questions from the Bleacher Report inbox, Twitter and email at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

You have SEC questions, and I have SEC answers. Thank you for your questions. If I didn't get to them this week, they will be saved and used in the future.

And we're off! 

In terms of the SEC East race, Saturday's 41-30 loss to Georgia is much easier for South Carolina to overcome than it would be had the outcome gone the other way. Looking at the Gamecocks' schedule moving forward, they should be favored in all 10 of their remaining games.

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South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier

Sure, there are some speed bumps.

The Gamecocks should be on upset alert this week versus Vanderbilt, and despite last weekend's putrid offensive performance at Miami, Florida has the defense and running game to be in every game it plays. But that game is in Columbia, and the Gamecocks have a bye week leading up to it.

Georgia has LSU at the end of the month at home, which is a game the Bulldogs absolutely have to lose in order for South Carolina to have shot. At that point, they'd still have to lose another one along the way, perhaps at Tennessee, at Auburn or in Jacksonville to Florida.

Not out of the realm of possibility, by any means. But certainly a lot to ask.

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South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney

 

Definitely Texas A&M, and it's not even close.

Johnny Manziel is so dangerous with his arm and his legs; there are four players at running back who would be contributors anywhere in the country; wide receivers are young, tall and ultra-talented; and the coaching staff knows how to adjust to its personnel.

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Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin

Plus, the Aggies have offensive weapons that haven't been used this season. 

Sure, there are some questions defensively, but thanks to a laundry list of early-season suspensions, the real Aggie defense hasn't seen the field yet.

Florida, on the other hand, has some issues on offense. The scheme is conservative by design and necessity. Head coach Will Muschamp wants to play ground and pound, pro style football and rely on his defense; and has been successful in his two-plus years at the helm.

But when Florida's defense lets its guard down, even for a quarter—as was the case last weekend in Miami—the offense has a hard time stretching the field.

Texas A&M can adapt its offense to whatever kind of game its defense dictates. Florida, on the other hand, can't.

In that hypothetical matchup in 2013, I'd expect Florida to contain Manziel like it did last year and force him to win it through the air. Against Florida's defensive backs, that's a tall order. But he'd have enough success to soften up the defense and open up some running lanes later in the game.

Advantage: Texas A&M.

Does Johnny Manziel have to beat Alabama to win the Heisman Trophy?

 

Not a chance. 

The turnovers forced against Western Kentucky were nice, but one was on a very poorly thrown ball and one was on a tipped ball. You can't count on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota making those same mistakes. 

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Tennessee head coach Butch Jones

Not at home, anyway.

Tennessee's defense has been a surprise so far, giving up just 302 yards per game. But Oregon's offense is a machine, and it will get its yards.

The bright spot for the Vols is that they have what it takes to play keep away, thanks to a solid offensive line and underrated running game led by Rajion Neal (215 rushing yards and four touchdowns in two games). That's the way to compete with Oregon, control the tempo and keep the defense as fresh as possible.

But as we saw last week, when Oregon scored 59 points in only 21:25, time of possession means very little to the Ducks.

Keep away will work for a little while, but Oregon will pull away in the second half to a big victory.

The Program: Tennessee at Oregon Preview

 

Do you have a question for next week's Q&A? Send it to SEC lead writer Barrett Sallee via the B/R inbox, on Twitter @BarrettSallee or at bsallee@bleacherreport.com.

 


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