Time to take a closer look at the comparative merits of Iowa and South Carolina. Because we here at Garnet and Black Attack like to sugarcoat things as thickly as possible, we'll go ahead and get the unpleasant stuff out of the way before we move on to what really matters. So, without further adieu...
Contestants: Shonn Greene and Jewel Hampton (Iowa) and Mike Davis, Eric Baker, Brian Maddox, and Bobby Wallace (South Carolina)
It's no mystery who has the advantage here. Iowa's feature back, Shonn Greene, barely missed out on making the trip to New York for the Heisman selection. Greene finished the season with 1,729 yards and 17 TDs, probably the best performance by any RB in the country. Physically, Greene has an impressive combination of speed and size. He is also a smart player. Iowa's features play is a zone read run that places a lot of responsibility on the RB to find the right hole. Greene does this very well. All in all, a great back.Greene's backup is Jewel Hampton. Hampton typically gets a few carries a game when Greene needs a breather. He's played well in these situations and in garbage time during blowouts.
As Gamecocks fans know, South Carolina has struggled mightily running the ball. Our starter, Mike Davis, only has about 150 more yards than Iowa's backup. We have seven rushing TDs all year. We're averaging 2.9 ypc. This is not a good running game by any definition of the term.
While Iowa will mix in some play-action passes, they will attempt to run the ball down our throats for most of the day. While I expect our defensive front to do a better than average job slowing down Greene, Iowa will move the ball well on the ground. Against a disciplined line and a RB that knows who to run behind to maximize his yardage, we likely won't be stopping Greene for two many two yard losses unless our defensive line is able to completely manhandle Iowa's offensive line, which I doubt. The key to not letting them run over us is going to be smart play by our linebackers and safeties. When Greene bursts through the hole, we have to meet him there and tackle well. If we can do that, we can get Iowa into 3rd-and-long situations where they aren't comfortable.
I'm not even going to talk about what I want to see from our running game. If we can get about 75 total yards, move the chains on 3rd and short, and not fumble, I'll be happy. To tell the truth, I fully expect Stephen Garcia to lead the team in rushing yards.