South Carolina is set to open the home portion of their schedule at Williams-Brice Stadium when the Navy Midshipmen roll into town this Saturday. The game is set for 6:00 p.m. on ESPN2.
Navy's triple-option offense will be an interesting challenge for the Gamecocks, after their run defense was suspect against the Georgia Bulldogs in Week 2, with Georgia finishing the game with 188 yards and one touchdown.
Two weeks into this young season, Navy is averaging 40 points per game. Navy has only attempted 14 passes in two games, so it's safe to say their eyes will be on running the football. The Midshipmen are averaging 400.5 yards per game running the football and have a total of 801 yards rushing with seven total touchdowns.
The Gamecocks will need to keep their eyes on these four players this weekend:
The first player the Gamecocks need to keep an eye on this weekend is fullback Alexander Teich. Teich is a bruising runner for the Midshipmen who's a bit smaller than recent Navy fullbacks, but is quick and strong.
Teich started seven games for Navy last year and was Navy's second leading rusher last year, with 863 yards rushing along with five touchdowns. He's been more effective on the outside pitch on option plays than more recent Navy fullbacks.
Teich currently has 167 yards on 29 carries, for an average gain of 5.8 yards. He has zero rushing touchdowns this year, but he's a main part of the balanced Navy rushing attack. He's one of several upperclassman in the backfield and his experience could pay off in an environment like Williams-Brice Stadium.
Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor has the tough job of replacing Navy legend Ricky Dobbs. Proctor gets his chance to shine for Navy this season and has gotten better each year.
He started one game last season for Navy against Central Michigan, and finished the year with 304 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. He threw the ball only five times and completed just two passes for a total of 33 yards.
Proctor is much-improved throwing the football, but the strong point of his game is still running the ball. He is considered one of the faster quarterbacks in recent memory for Navy, and he's already off to a good start in 2011.
He has gained 199 yards on 38 carries with three rushing touchdowns and a 5.2 yards per carry average. Proctor has also completed seven out of 14 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
He's the key to Navy's triple-option offense. South Carolina will need to disrupt his rhythm when he's making a choice about whether to keep the football or pitch it to a teammate.
Navy slotback John Howell had limited reps in his first season as a member of the varsity squad for Navy in 2010. He finished the year with 102 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns. He also added 102 yards receiving with two touchdowns. He's a player that's expected to be a big-play threat for Navy this year and he's already off to a fast start.
Howell has just five carries on the year, but those carries have produced some big numbers for Navy. He has gained 126 yards, has two touchdowns on those five carries, and his average yards per carry is 25.2 yards.
He knows what to do when the football is in his hands.
Howell is a valuable receiver out of the backfield as well, and South Carolina needs to watch out for this small, shifty back.
Aaron Santiago seems to be a versatile player for Navy.
Santiago finished the 2010 season with 201 yards and one rushing touchdown, along with 251 yards receiving and three receiving touchdowns. He made six starts for Navy and is one of their main slotbacks in the triple-option this year.
The senior from Hawaii has 11 carries in 2011, for 79 yards with two rushing touchdowns. He's the third-leading receiver for Navy, with two catches for 41 yards and one touchdown.
He's certainly a viable candidate to watch out of the backfield with his speed and his good hands. He was clocked in the 40-yard dash as fast as 4.49 seconds.
Santiago is just another option out of the triple-option that has to be accounted for at all times.