The Gamecocks finally get a breather when FCS South Carolina State Bulldogs travel to Columbia. This isn't to say that coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough's (a former RB coach under Lou Holtz at USC during the heady Outback Bowl dynasty) Bulldogs aren't a good team. SC State is coming off a MEAC championship season in which they went 10-3 and made the FCS playoffs for the first time in 26 seasons. With many players returning from that outfit, they've been voted number 17 in an FCS preseason poll. This is a team to watch in the FCS ranks, and it's even a team that could conceivably pull off an upset against us if we play particularly poorly. That said, this is still an FCS team, and while it's going to be a good one, it's still not as good as the Appalachian States and Woffords of the world. Keep in mind that, despite being competetive in 2007 and conference champs in 2008, we beat SC State 38-3 in 2007 (and we played awfully that night) and Clemson beat them 54-0 last year. We have sizeable talent advantages in all areas and should win as long as we play at least reasonably well. Therefore, I'm not going to go over comparisons position by position; my prediction is that we win by 4-5 touchdowns. I would like to take a moment after the jump to point out a few things to watch for when we take on the Bulldogs.
- SC State senior RB William Ford is the centerpiece of this offense. Ford has been voted preaseason FCS All America and is considered a minor NFL prospect. He ran for 1499 yards last year. While a little on the small side for the NFL and the FBS at 5'9 / 188, Ford has great speed, clocking in a low 40 time of 4.32. This guy can break off a big run against us if he gets loose. He also runs relatively well inside for his size, although his typical Saturday in a MEAC showdown doesn't include butting heads with the likes of Nate Pepper, Eric Norwood, and Rodney Paulk, so I wouldn't expect him to get much inside yardage against us.
- The QB projects to be junior Malcolm Long. Long--who missed a few games due to injury--played OK but not great last season. Sophomore DeWain Clark played well while filling in for Long, so he may also be an option.
- As it often is for FCS teams, kicking was a problem for SC State. PK Blake Erickson missed six extra points on the year and Pough only let him attempt five field goals.
- If you're curious to learn more about these guys, someone actually used to have a blog dedicated to all things SC State, including football. It's Bulldog Nation News. Check it out. Unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a while.