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The Friday Afternoon Optimist: South Carolina hopes for best against Texas A&M

Four games down, eight to go. Can Carolina get back over .500 with a win this weekend?

Texas A&M v South Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After a tough loss last week, South Carolina is definitely looking to rebound with an upset win over the Aggies of Texas A&M University. Sitting at 2-2 (1-2 in the SEC), a win this week would be crucial to keep any hopes of winning the East alive. But let’s take a quick look at the key takeaways from last week:

Reasons for Optimism:

The Pass Defense: Any time you only give up 135 yards of passing offense, you’re doing something right. Jamarcus King and Chris Lammons have really showed up to play so far this season, and this group continues to force turnovers. This is one of the most talented secondary units that we have had since Jimmy Legree and Victor Hampton were suiting up three years ago.

The Pass Rush: Four more sacks last Saturday, with Dante Sawyer notching two of those, is a huge boon to the overall efficiency of the defense. Between the ECU and Kentucky games, the defense has compiled eight total sacks (!!!). If the pass rush shows up like this against Texas A&M Saturday, our chances of winning will improve by a wide margin.

Reasons for Pessimism:

The Offensive Line: After a promising first game, the run game has fallen flat the last few weeks. If we continue to only gain 3.3 yards per rush, our chances of winning will decrease exponentially. Also, pass protection has been a concern, as McIlwain typically has limited time in the pocket. If this unit can improve, the young offense has the talent to make some serious noise. But if not, we could be in for a long season.

Insane Strength of Schedule: Texas A&M, followed by Georgia, with Tennessee coming in two weeks later undoubtedly makes for a tough stretch coming up. That’s three straight SEC games where we will be announced underdogs. I think we can all let out a collective “yikes” here.

This season is not over. You play 12 (maybe 13) games for a reason, and with each passing week comes a fresh slate. I know it’s easy to dog on this team with the uninspiring returns early on, but just stick with it guys. This team has talent, and they will show it. It’s just a matter of when.