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Can Stephen Garcia find some consistency this season?
ECU was worst in the country last year in scoring defense, but expect that to change.
Last season was a complete rebuild for a defense that only returned two starters from the 2009 Conference USA championship team.
This season, defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell has installed a new 3-4 scheme in Greenville to take advantage of the size and speed of the players they have. This new defense should take away some of Marcus Lattimore’s lateral movement and keep him contained.
The big question is this: Once they contain Lattimore, can they tackle him?
With the Pirates keying in on stopping Lattimore and the Gamecocks running game, ECU will force Stephen Garcia to beat them throwing the ball down the field.
Now, the question becomes, "Will Stephen Garcia will show up with his A-game September 3rd?"
If not, it could be a very long game for the Gamecocks offense.
Alshon Jeffrey can only be effective if he gets the ball in his hands, and Garcia’s history of inconsistent play could be a big factor in this contest.
There is also a lack of proven depth at wide receiver for South Carolina. Alshon Jeffrey obviously excelled last season, but the second leading receiver, Tori Gurley, had only half as many catches and less than a third of the yards as Jeffrey.
The third leading receiver was Marcus Lattimore out of the backfield.
Look for a lot of double-teams on Jeffrey, so someone will need to step up for the Gamecocks in the receiving corps.