As always, your comments in the Open Thread are appreciated.
1. Stephen Garcia. Yes, it's been UAB and Kentucky, and yes, it's just ... wait a minute. Kentucky? You mean the Kentucky that was third in pass defense and second in pass efficiency defense before facing South Carolina? Garcia gets the start, and while he doesn't have a bunch of experience, I like what I've seen so far.
|2008 - Stephen Garcia||3||150.9||23||35||65.7||300||100.0||13.0||2||1||26||109||36.3||4.2||1||-||-|
He's far more accurate than Smelley and is starting to make good decisions. Those saying South Carolina has a QB controversy are missing the point. The only reason there was any controversy is that Garcia needed time to grow up.
2. A chink in the armor. You don't think Steve Spurrier and Ellis Johnson were studying the game tape of what Florida did to wax LSU? Yeah. It's hard to say whether the Gators actually provided a blueprint to defeat the Bayou Bengals or just caught LSU on a bad day. And Florida certainly has better talent and more speed than South Carolina. But some weaknesses were exposed in the Swamp, and Spurrier and Johnson will try to take advantage.
3. The Gamecocks defense. This might be the best defensive team LSU has faced this year. South Carolina is first in the conference in total defense and passing defense and in the top half of the league in several defensive stats, though one of the exceptions is troubling -- more on that later.
4. Revenge. Think Spurrier remembers this? So do I. He'll have an answer at some point; the key is to pull it out when LSU isn't expecting it.
5. Call it a hunch. I hate going on anything so unrelated to the field. Hunches have lead me to some good places and some disastrous ones. I started out this week feeling like the LSU loss against Florida only made it more likely we would get demolished today. As the week went on, though, I began to feel more confident about this game. We'll see.
1. Rebounding. LSU has been good coming off a loss over the last six years. How good?
LSU is 6-0 under Les Miles in games following a loss and the Tigers haven't lost back-to-back games in football since the end of the 2002 season when they dropped a 21-20 decision to Arkansas to close out the regular season and then followed that with a 35-20 defeat to Texas in the Cotton Bowl.
Well, that's impressive, but not necessarily...
The 2003 win over the Gamecocks, which came the week after a disappointing 19-7 loss to Florida, was the first of eight straight that year by the Tigers as LSU went on to claim the national title.
Ah, well. I see. In any case, the post-loss record isn't one of those meaningless ESPNWENEEDAGRAPHICWHATCANWESAY statistics. It shows that Miles and Co. are good at figuring out what went wrong and correcting it. And it makes the Bengals dangerous this week.
2. Charles Scott. The centerpiece of the LSU offense will not, contrary to popular belief, be a Heism@n candidate. But he's still pretty good; 14th in the country with 114 ypg good.
|2008 - Charles Scott||5||83||570||114.0||6.9||0||6||5||45||9.0||9.0||0||0|
That's where the weak spot in the South Carolina defense is so troubling. The Gamecocks are giving up 108.9 ypg rushing. While that still puts them in the top quarter nationally, it places them near the bottom third in the SEC.
3. The LSU offense. Even after last week's disaster, the Bayou Bengals are still good for 406 ypg offense, second in the SEC. Scott is great and QB Jarrett Lee is efficient. The Tigers are in the top third of the SEC in every major offensive category. But most of those yards were racked up against suspect competition.
4. Les Miles. He might be crazy, but he's not dumb. Miles reminds me very much of Bo Schembechler: An almost single-minded focus on football and a supreme confidence in his own abilities and those of his players. Miles' fourth-down calls are only risky gambles if you don't know what you're doing; he clearly does. It is a joy to watch Miles coach -- whenever it's not against us.
5. History. LSU is 15-2-1 all-time against South Carolina and has never lost in the WB. So throw out homefield advantage. They've controlled this series, and it'll take the Gamecocks' best effort of the year to turn that around.
PREDICTION: And I think the best effort of the year is exactly what we'll see. This will be a low-scoring game decided by Succop's leg -- Heaven help us. South Carolina 13, LSU 10