This post concludes our Miss. St. preview.
Three Keys to Victory
3. Stop the Run
Miss. St. has struggled to pass the ball all season, although they do appear to do so somewhat better when Tyler Russell is in. Therefore, we should take away the run. I like our chances to slow State down with run-focused defensive schemes, and when State does pass, I think our front four should be able to get more than enough pressure to disrupt their passing game.
2. Offensive Line Must Improve
I know we're playing some young guys in Cody Gibson and Mike Matulis, but at some point these guys need to step up. One of State's defensive strengths is the interior of its defensive front, so these guys as well as the rest of the big uglies need to play better in this game. They not only need to knock some Bulldogs backwards; they also need to avoid committing motion penalties, which is always a challenge when the cowbells start ringing in Davis-Wade.
1. Shaw Needs to Continue to Play Well
As important as the offensive line is to the offense playing well, I think, in this game at least, that all offensive problems will take care of themselves if Shaw has another good game. It's up to Shaw to soften up the defensive interior, which will allow Marcus Lattimore room to run. Shaw doesn't have to play great. He doesn't even have to be as good as he was last week. What he does need to do is hit the routine passes. He also needs to protect the ball. I think our defense can hold Miss. St. to a low score, but only if Shaw doesn't give State good field position.
Continue reading after the jump.
What It Means
This is a really key game. The Gamecocks can't lose this game if they want to keep a leg up in the SEC East standings.
I'm not expecting the kind of offensive explosion we got from Shaw last week. What I do expect, though, is for Shaw to play an efficient game and to open up room for Lattimore as the game wears on. That should be enough to win, as the defense will do the rest. 24-13 Gamecocks.