South Carolina Football Three Keys: Arkansas

South carolina football Three keys

There are two SEC games in Week 2. One is Kentucky-Florida. This is the other. South Carolina and Arkansas are two of the most fascinating teams in the country.

By Matt Zemek

Every college football fan in the nation is interested in South Carolina because Spencer Rattler, having transferred from Oklahoma, is now the Gamecocks’ quarterback. Shane Beamer was on Lincoln Riley’s staff at Oklahoma, so he had a natural line through which to reach out to Beamer and bring him to Columbia.

Arkansas is an interesting team because of the meteoric rise of the program under coach Sam Pittman. Beating Cincinnati in Week 1 will only continue to elevate Arkansas’ national profile. The Razorbacks want to make a New Year’s Six bowl game. They have to win this game if that goal is going to remain realistic throughout the season. Let’s look at what South Carolina has to do to get a win in Fayetteville and continue its upward momentum as a program.

1 – Rattle Arkansas

Arkansas beat Cincinnati for many reasons, one of them being that Cincinnati was breaking in a new quarterback to replace 2021 signal-caller Desmond Ridder, who was a top-80 NFL draft pick. Spencer Rattler is new to South Carolina, but he isn’t new to college football. This is his third year of ball, and that experience needs to come to the forefront against Arkansas. Rattler had an unremarkable opener against Georgia State. He did what he had to do to win, but he did not produce eye-popping numbers. This is when Rattler needs to deliver a breakout game and show his teammates, not just opponents, that he is capable of taking this offense on his back and guiding it to a higher level. South Carolina can be good if Rattler is less than great, but South Carolina cannot be a great team if Rattler fails to max out. He has a game under his belt with his new Gamecock teammates. Now Rattler needs to learn from film study and put the pieces together in Week 2.

2 – Contain K.J. Jefferson as a runner

We saw this with Florida against Utah in Week 1. Anthony Richardson was much tougher as a runner than as a passer. Utah needed to clog running lanes but instead failed to gain containment on a formidable running quarterback. K.J. Jefferson of Arkansas is not a bad passer, but his running ability needs to be stopped first and foremost. South Carolina cannot let him run Hog wild.

3 – Red zone

Arkansas’ defense stepped up big in the red zone to thwart Cincinnati drives. No one can fully predict how a game will unfold, but if South Carolina does get at least three or four red-zone possessions, a majority of them will need to be touchdowns for the Gamecocks to gain enough leverage to win.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 11:00 AM CT (12:00 PM ET). You can watch this SEC football game on the ESPN Network.

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