South Carolina football visits Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford. Here are your three keys to a Gamecock victory.
By Don Yates
1. Red zone success
It’s important to have success in the red zone in any game. This game is no different. Ole Miss, as good as their offense has been at times, is being outplayed by opponents in the red zone. In the red zone Ole Miss scores touchdowns in 66% of chances. Ole Miss opponents score TDs in the red zone 77% of the time. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s defense allows 65% of red-zone chances to be scored as touchdowns. South Carolina’s offense scores TDs on 72% of chances. There is not much of a disparity in these stats. But it does make it clear that it’s important to win in the red zone, ie., get touchdowns or prevent opponents from scoring touchdowns. Whichever team is best at this will probably win the game.
2. Avoid allowing long gains
In six games this season the Rebels have had 122 plays go for 10 or more yards. There have been 480 total offensive plays this season for Ole Miss so if you do the math the Rebels are gaining 10 or more yards on over 25% of their plays. That’s scary. Also consider that 36 of those 122 plays have gone for 20 or more yards. How do you slow down this Ole Miss offense? You speed the game up. Use up as much time as possible on every play. Run the ball often and hard. If you try to get in a shoot out with the Rebels you’ll lose. Avoid punting to Ole Miss. Consider executing fake punts and surprise on-side kicks.
3. Collin Hill shines
The Ole Miss defense is not very good. They give up a boatload of points. It’s still important that Gamecock offense burn up as much clock as possible to keep the ball away from the Ole Miss offense. That said, there are still going to be times when the Gamecocks are in passing situations. USC needs graduate transfer quarterback Collin Hill to have an excellent game. By excellent I mean no interceptions and he completes approaching or over 70% of his passes. Incompletions are bad because they stop the clock, and, yes, because they are not catches.
Ole Miss isn’t a juggernaut overall, just on offense. The Rebels can be beaten but they can also run away with the game if you give them freebie opportunities.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch this South Carolina football game on the SEC Network.