Troy vs South Carolina preview
South Carolina host Troy this weekend and will be trying to end a two-game losing skid. Each of these teams will be trying to get their offenses in gear. Unfortunately, they will each be doing so against a stingy opposition defense. The Gamecocks desperately need a win at Williams-Brice Stadium before hitting a stretch of six consecutive SEC contests. Which ever team can get their offense going early has a chance to control this one.
Shane Beamer’s team is coming off a tough home loss to Kentucky. It’s a game they did not play particularly well in, but still feel like they should’ve won. The defense forced three turnovers and held the Wildcats in check for most of the game aside from their opening drive. The offense could not capitalize on their opponents mistakes though, and they squandered too many opportunities. South Carolina must start games better as well. They haven’t scored a first half touchdown in any of their last three games.
The biggest concern for the team in garnet in black is that they have not been able to get the running game going at all. In 2020, that was the strength of a struggling offense. Kevin Harris led the SEC in yards during the ten-game regular season. The tailback position is arguably the team’s deepest group in terms of talented play makers, but they have underperformed thus far. Marshawn Lloyd, Juju McDowell, and Zaquandre White have all shown flashes of ability, but neither them nor Harris have sustained any real success. This needs to change on Saturday.
The offensive line has struggled mightily in both run blocking and pass protection. Troy is not a good team to play when you ability to block is in question. Since 2017, the Trojans are in the top four in the country in tackles for loss. Only Clemson, Miami, and Ohio State rank ahead of them over that time period. The Gamecocks line must be more physical and perform with much better execution than they have through the first four contests. If they allow the Trojans to disrupt their backfield like they have proven capable of, it could be another long day for the home team.
South Carolina needs to be creative on offense early in the game, and get guys like Josh Vann, Nick Muse, and Jaheim Bell involved. They want to establish the run, but with their struggles this season they may need use the passing game first to open some running lanes. They cannot wait until halftime to make adjustments and show a pulse on offense. The Gamecocks must score early to take the notion of an upset off the table. Troy is an aggressive defense that likes to attack the opponent’s backfield. Some misdirection or screen plays make be useful early in the contest.
On the other side of the ball, South Carolina has performed very well through the first third of their season. They are allowing just 18 points and under 300 yards of offense a game. The biggest thing they are doing is taking the ball away. They have recovered two fumbles and picked off nine passes already in 2021. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Safety Jaylan Foster leads the SEC with four interceptions. Troy has turned the ball over five times in four games.
The Gamecocks need a win on Saturday if they want to keep their bowl hopes alive in Beamer’s first season as coach. Each of these teams has trouble scoring while also being disruptive on the defensive side of the ball. South Carolina needs to get its offense going early so they can get the home crowd involved and keep the Trojans from building confidence. These two teams mirror each other in both their strengths and struggles this year. Which ever one can impose their will can come away with the victory.
Article written by David Knight Twitter @DK3000SC