Capital One Citrus Bowl 2012: 5 Keys to a South Carolina Gamecock Victory
Here we go.
The Gamecocks have a huge game to prepare for against the historically important Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Gamecocks have an opportunity to do something that no other team in their 109-year history has done. Winning 11 games not only is a milestone, it sets the team up for quite a bright future.
To win this major bowl game against one of the greatest programs in the country would be immensely important. It means everything to the fans, players, coaches, and the South Carolina community.
The Matchup Chart
|South Carolina Advantage||Even||Nebraska Advantage|
|Wide Receivers||X |
|Defensive Line||X |
|Defensive Backs||X |
South Carolina: 70th
South Carolina: 4th
Put a mirror up to one of these teams, and you will be looking at the other. The offenses are extremely similar. In fact, Connor Shaw and Taylor Martinez are pretty much identical. Connor is the more heady of the two, but Martinez has a touch more experience.
Both teams rely on running the ball.
Both teams rely on their defense.
The main deference between these two teams? Nebraska's defense is really good, and South Carolina's defense is great.
In the grand scheme of things, South Carolina desperately needs (and wants) the W in this game.
So, how can they get it? Let's take a look.
1. Attack Nebraska's Weak Run Defense with the Zone Read Option
Yes, I did say Nebraska had a good defense. However, they are most effective against the pass. They rank 67th in the country against the run, and this will be a very difficult matchup for them.
Connor Shaw, Kenny Miles, Brandon Wilds, Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington should have no problems finding space. If I know anything about Steve Spurrier, it's that he will give his playmakers an opportunity to make big plays. The zone-read option gives him that ability.
If the Gamecocks execute, they should have no problems rushing for close to 300 yards, with Connor and Brandon having huge games.
2. The Defensive Line Must Play with Discipline
Discipline. It's a word that needs to be ingrained in the athletic defensive line's brains.
Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram and Devin Taylor all love to pin their ears back and chase after the quarterback. If they do that for this game, they will get gashed for huge runs. They must play the run. Taylor Martinez has the athleticism to move around a pass rush and take off for gigantic gains.
3. Don't Be Fooled on the Play-Action
Nebraska doesn't pass a whole lot, but they love to throw in the play-action pass at times. Taylor isn't the most accurate passer in the world, but he has the capability to make some huge plays.
Stephon Gilmore and Co. can't overreact to what they see. This all goes back to being disciplined. They must also be aware of where their safety help is. If they let receivers go without understanding where the other players are, it could cause major problems.
4. Get out to an Early Lead
There is one way to almost guarantee victory. If South Carolina can get up an early lead, the Cornhuskers aren't built to come back, especially given the difficulty of the matchup. I would expect that if Steve Spurrier gets the chance for an early dice-roll kill shot, he's going to take it.
Play-action to Alshon Jeffery, going for it on 4th-and-short—I am not sure how it will come, but if Spurrier sees an opportunity to seize control of this game, he's going to take it.
5. Win the Turnover Battle
As cliche as it sounds, this is the most important aspect of this game.
South Carolina's bowl woes have started and ended with turnovers. Interceptions, fumbles, downs, whatever—it has happened to this team at the end.
For the woes to end, they must control the ball at all times and cause a couple of turnovers of their own.
Thank You, Readers...and My Pick
Before I get to my picks, I would like to thank you guys for reading my five keys pieces this season. These are my second favorite things to write during the year, my favorite of course being the preseason guide.
With 30,000 combined reads this year on these pieces alone, I greatly appreciate your support.
I would also like to thank my good friend Leftover Hotdog for his support on the "picks" section each week. Even though I did beat him in our contest (sorry LHD), he's always good for great insights.
Also, the long list of guest pickers who helped out along the way.
Anyway, on to my pick...
There will be no end-of-the-year swoon for this Gamecock team. Spurrier has promised 11-win rings for the players, and Connor Shaw is already hard at work dissecting the film of Nebraska. While no bowl game is easy to call, I am going with the Gamecocks.
Final Score: South Carolina 24, Nebraska 13.
It's great to be a Gamecock!