I hate that I'm even writing this article, but the Georgia game has finally passed - might as well have been a kidney stone - and it's time to gear up for our second SEC game of the season. There are several reasons to be excited about this game, but instead of listing those, I'm going to take a look at what needs to happens on Saturday so that we're not all sick Monday morning.
- Relax and get back to basics. The team was often out of position, looked confused and very stiff last week which means it's time to get back to the basics of football. Know where your man is, play your assignment, and make the play. Hopefully the coaches have simplified things this week, which should result in better execution.
- Put a premium on execution. In another game, I'd be tempted to say "pin your ears back and go get them", but not this one. After such a poor showing last week it would be nice to see the defense play "within themselves" and execute on every down. Not every play has to be a forced fumble, sack or interception, but every play must be stopped in an effective manner.
- Dominate the line of scrimmage. The defensive line was supposed to be the heart and soul of the entire team for the 2013 campaign, but it has so far been rendered null. Teams are capitalizing on youthfulness of the Gamecock linebackers and secondary, and for those young players to be successful the defensive line is going to have to step up and dominate the line of scrimmage.
- It's time to grow up. Leaders need to emerge, coaches need to be unified, and young players need to grow up. After this week we're going to be a quarter through with the 2013 season: this home game is the perfect time to lay the tracks and se the tone for the rest of the year.
- Pound the rock. Statistically speaking, Mike Davis is 4th in the SEC and beat Todd Gurley in total yards and yards per carry during the head to head match up; racking up 149 yards on 16 carries, and one touch down. Davis has all the physical tools to be special and should be given ample opportunity against a Vanderbilt team that allowed Ole Miss to rush for 206 yards.
- Build upon the successes found during the first two weeks of play, and continue to develop a coherent offensive identity. During the Spurrier era the offense has thrived best when equality between the air and ground attack has been achieved and this season is proving to be no different. In two games the Gamecocks have averaged 28.5 points and 430 yards per game. Out of those 800 or so total yards, we've passed for around 400 and ran for 450. Pretty good balance. The second part of this goal is to be more efficient, and turn those yards into points. Two games into the 2012 season the Gamecocks were averaging 337 yards a game - a whopping 100 yards less than this year - and also had an average 28.5 points per game. Failed red zone attempts hurt, badly.
- Plant the gas into the floor board and make a statement. There is no reason for this team to hold back on the first night game, at home, of the season. The crowd should be pumped up and considering how scrappy Vanderbilt plays, we should be ready to throw everything in the playbook at them. Even with a lead there is no reason to take our foot off the gas this week.
For the entire team...
- Be ready for a fight. Vanderbilt has, traditionally, given us fits and like last year we should be prepared for a hard fought SEC game. Last week was the most important game of the season, and now this week is the most important game of the season. Set the tone, at home, and lay the plumbing for the rest of it.
So there you have it - my goals for Vanderbilt. What are yours?