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Inside Enemy Territory: Virginia Edition

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Let’s check the temperature over in Cavalier country.

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the final edition of Inside Enemy Territory, which takes us into the hearts and minds of the Virginia faithful over at The Sabre. This was a tough one to put together, but mostly because that message board has a user interface straight out of 1996 and I can’t imagine why nobody has seen fit to update it since then. I guess they’re comfortable by now, and hey, change is hard.

At any rate, let’s take a look at a group that is sensitive about ACC vs. SEC implications and appears generally confident:

USC DL is in tatters. Clem couldn’t stop the offense but the defense was a bunch of 3rd stringers who offered zero resistance. If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and special teams gaffes we should be able to build a working margin and ride to victory.

It’s definitely a shame South Carolina won’t have Javon Kinlaw at its disposal, but I wouldn’t say the defensive line is in tatters. (The secondary? Different story.) The Gamecocks will also be getting some players back from injury, and besides that, assuming Virginia’s offense will enjoy the same level of success Clemson’s did is a bit of a stretch. I honestly don’t see either team being able to build a “working margin,” both because this game feels evenly matched and because both squads seem to love playing in nailbiters.

It looks like they compete in most games. All 5 of their losses are to teams currently ranked in the top 20 with close losses to Florida and Texas A&M.

Hey, thanks for that! Nice little tidbit to help folks feel better about what has been an emotional rollercoaster of a season. (I also appreciate the “close loss” tag being applied to the Florida game, which was such an infuriatingly fumbled blowout victory that I still can’t think about it longer than it took me to write this sentence.)

They will likely own us in the trenches. Winning the turnover battle is our best chance.

This fear of the line of scrimmage was echoed through various threads, which I found interesting. South Carolina’s offensive line in particular was given some props, which makes sense even without Zack Bailey.

They can win a game that is close near the end

I realize the Hoos are likely still down about blowing their last two games, and I appreciate this compliment, but unfortunately South Carolina has fourth-quarter screwups to its name as well.

Bryan Edwards is a big, physical receiver prone to drops. Mon Denson is a big back, we will have trouble stopping him. Shi Smith is a big play receiver. This will be by far the best offense we have faced.

It’s a little odd to single out Edwards here, especially because the receiving corps as a whole struggled with drops this year, but thankfully that hasn’t been a sticking point of late. I’m also impressed that Denson got a shout out — he’s not South Carolina’s most dynamic or explosive back, but I’m happy to see him getting some respect. At any rate, I agree this will likely be the best offense UVA has seen, aside from maybe N.C. State (which beat them 35-21).

I believe the Gamecocks are taking us lightly. Very little enthusiasm here for playing us. They are poisoned by the belief that they are better than they truly are, and that it should take little effort to dispatch with a lowly ACC team.

I’ve not seen many USC fans treating this game like a layup, but I’ve definitely seen plenty of them down about the team’s performance this season. I think few Gamecock folks believe this team is better than it is — hell, I’d say many think it’s quite a bit worse. 7-5 wasn’t where most of us wanted to end up, and that’s where the lack of enthusiasm comes from.

There fans have a very false sense of their own history. Outside of three years in a row under Spurrier they’ve mostly been middling to bad. The only thing they have to hang there hat on is the SEC and George Rogers which was half a lifetime ago.

This poster is not tooootally off base, but I always enjoy this kind of smack talk coming from a program that has a similarly empty trophy case. Yeah, and?

Also, UKs QB torched USC, he is very similar to BPs skill set. I would not count us out in this game, I definitely do not see us getting blown out like so many UVa and USC fans believe will happen.

Oh yeah, this definitely worries me. Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins is a baller, and South Carolina has traditionally struggled with defending mobile quarterbacks. As this poster points out, Kentucky’s Terry Wilson is a good comparison, and he made the Gamecocks look pretty foolish. Perkins going off is my biggest fear ahead of this game, especially with the poor run defense South Carolina has been bringing to the table.

I am not overly confident but I do not understand all the negative thoughts about playing USC. This is a win/win situation for our program. If we win we get to 8 wins, we win a bowl game over the “mighty SEC”, and we get to shut a lot of doubters up. If we lose, no one will think any differently about us expect for our program is at least getting to the point to being competitive with mid - level ACC/SEC teams.

I’d say this Hoo is probably right that USC has more to lose from a reputation and media standpoint. The perception is that Bronco Mendenhall has the Cavs trending upward, and I think that would hold true regardless of what happens in Charlotte (as long as they don’t get blown to smithereens, anyway). On the other hand, Florida references and hot takes about Will Muschamp will be ready to fly the moment the clock hits zero if the Gamecocks lay an egg. Perception is reality to a lot of pundits, and also to recruits. Plenty to play for in this one.

In summary, Virginia fans seem really fired up about the Belk Bowl, and eager to stick it to an SEC team. The Cavaliers want to be here, so hopefully the Gamecocks are hungry too.