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Previewing South Carolina at Alabama: Topics for Discussion on the 'Bama Defense

  • How well can we run against Alabama? The Tide have one of the country's best rushing defenses. They held Ole Miss to only around 70 yards last week; they held Dexter McCluster to 2.5 ypc. While I've been impressed with our improved running game this year, I don't think we're going to be able to run the ball effectively against Alabama, at least not in the traditional way. If we can open up the offense and force 'Bama to respect the pass, we may be able to surprise them on the ground. Between the tackles from start to finish is unlikely, though.
  • Can our offensive line protect Stephen Garcia? Garcia was sacked three times last week and hurried a few more times. Bama's defensive front is better than Kentucky's. That equals possible trouble. I see two solutions to this problem, and we'll probably need a combination of the two for true success. One is for our line to play the game of their lives. The other is for Spurrier and the staff to devise a game plan that negates 'Bama's defensive line. We've seen Spurrier do this to some success before, such as when he often had Chris Smelley roll out a few times last year against Ole Miss. Garcia is more mobile than Smelley, so I would think he has an ideal skill set for this kind of approach.
  • Can we handle a good man defense? We've had success against zones than against man coverage this year. However, Alshon Jeffrey's emergence last week gives me hope that we now have a weapon with which to punish aggressive defenses. We'll see if Alshon and Garcia can hook up again against a better secondary.