A pair of 2-2 squads meet on Saturday as the South Carolina Gamecocks look to send the Troy Trojans back to Alabama with a losing record. Here are the three keys to a South Carolina win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Protect the quarterback
The Trojans have one of the sneakily best defenses in the entire country. They allow just 244 total yards per game – less than 100 on the ground – and it all starts with a pass rush that has totaled 18 sacks in four games. The offensive line will need to be at its best against a powerful and athletic front seven that knows how to get after the quarterback. Luke Doty is still coming back from his injury and can’t be expected to be at his sharpest, so protecting him is key.
2 – Keep the turnovers coming
The South Carolina defense has outshone the offense so far this season. This was to be expected under Shane Beamer and a new coaching staff as getting the right offensive parts in place takes more time than on defense. The three turnovers collected against Kentucky kept that one close and gave the offense a chance to win, albeit one they didn’t take. More turnovers from a defense that forces fumbles and grabs interceptions will give the offense the field position to put away Troy here.
3 – Third down success
South Carolina is stalling way too much on third down offensively. Going 3-of-12 on third down and then 0-of-3 on fourth down to boot – just isn’t going to get it done. The play calling needs to be better on first and second down to give more favorable down and distance opportunities, while the execution on the field also needs to improve. South Carolina needs to be aiming to go much closer to 35% or 40% on third down in this one to keep the chains moving and control tempo.