South Carolina Football Three Keys: North Carolina

Three-keys-USC

South Carolina faces North Carolina on Saturday in Charlotte, NC. Here are your three keys to a South Carolina win over North Carolina.

By Matt Zemek

Well, well, well.

What do we have here?

There are bigger games in Week 1. There are sexier games. There are games which will get more media attention and will be discussed more on Sunday and Monday talk shows. However, in terms of a game with a soap-operatic coaching matchup, no game is better than South Carolina versus North Carolina.

Mack Brown led Texas to the national championship. He then hired – a few years later – Will Muschamp as his defensive coordinator… and something more than that.

Brown hired Muschamp to be the head coach in waiting. We have seen that term used on a few occasions over the years, but when Brown hired Muschamp at Texas and arrived at that arrangement, it was something new in the college football industry.

Everyone did wonder back then when – or if – Muschamp really would succeed Brown in Austin. When Texas slipped in 2010, suffering a miserable season one year after playing for the national title, Brown did not step down.

Muschamp saw that Brown was not letting go of his seat of authority at Texas. He jumped… and he jumped not to a lower-level college football head coaching job, but to Florida, as URBAN MEYER’S SUCCESSOR. Not bad, if you can do it.

Muschamp did have one great season, in 2012, but his other three seasons in Gainesville were disasters. He found work at South Carolina.

Guess who will oppose Muschamp with North Carolina on Saturday? Mack Brown. HELLO!

This will be fun.

Here are three keys for the Gamecocks:

Key 1 – Distribute The Ball

No Deebo Samuel means no towering star in this offense. South Carolina needs to spread the ball around and make sure several offensive players are capable of producing. This forces defenses to account for the whole field and not key on any specific aspect of the Gamecocks’ offense. Muschamp is a former defensive coordinator, but South Carolina’s offense has struggle for long sequences of big games in his tenure. Muschamp’s conservative instincts get the better of him far too often. This offense needs to relentlessly attack a defense for 60 minutes, and moving the ball around to every capable performer is a big part of that.

Key 2 – No Ifs, Ands, or Busts

North Carolina is not supposed to have a very strong offense this year. Phil Longo was a decent offensive coordinator at Ole Miss, but not sensational. The Tar Heels have struggled to find a strong quarterback since Mitch Trubisky left. South Carolina’s defense should be able to thrive in this matchup. As long as the Gamecocks don’t cough up huge chunk plays or make atrocious mistakes (think of Florida giving up a 4th and 34 to Miami because of pass interference on a 26-yard pass), South Carolina should contain the Tar Heels and win this game.

Key 3 – Waiting For Bateman

North Carolina defensive coordinator Jay Bateman is the star member of UNC’s coaching staff under Mack Brown. He turned Army – which has smaller, more undersized players – into a team with an 11-win defense. Now Bateman gets to coach larger, stronger athletes in a Power Five conference. South Carolina’s game plan and adjustments need to show respect for how Bateman moves chess pieces around the field, only with better athletes than what he had at Army.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 2:30 PM CT (3:30 PM ET). Watch on the ESPN Network.

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GameFirst Looks3 Keys
Game
Preview
HighlightsFinal Stats
Texas State vs. Texas A&MTexas StateTAMUPreviewA&M 41, TSU 7STATS
Toledo vs. KentuckyToledoKentuckyPreviewUK 38, TOL 24STATS
Ole Miss vs. MemphisMemphisOle MissPreviewMEM 15, OM 10STATS
Mississippi State vs. LouisianaLouisianaMSUPreviewMSU 38, ULL 28STATS
South Carolina vs. North CarolinaNorth CarolinaSouth CarolinaPreviewUNC 24, USC 20STATS
Georgia State vs. TennesseeGSUTennesseePreviewGS 38, TENN 30STATS
Duke vs. AlabamaDukeAlabamaPreviewALA 42, DUKE 3STATS
Portland State vs. ArkansasPortland StateArkansasPreviewARK 20, PSU 13STATS
Oregon vs. AuburnOregonAuburnPreviewAUB 27, OR 21STATS
Georgia Southern vs. LSUGA SouthernLSUPreviewLSU 55, GSU 3STATS
Missouri vs. WyomingWyomingMizzouPreviewWYO 37, MIZ 31STATS
Georgia vs. VanderbiltVandy / UGAVandy / UGAPreviewUGA 30, VU 6STATS
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