Welcome to the question and answers with the “enemy” of the week. We’re going to kick off, no pun intended, our weekly Q&A session with our friends at Backing the Pack. We tried to think of every relevant question for this week, and if I missed something let us know. If there is anything any of you would like the GABA crew to ask for next week, which would be Missouri, please let us know. Without further ado, here we go.
From an outsider’s perspective, what are some of the glaring weak links for the Gamecocks this week? Strengths?
There's definitely a question on special teams for South Carolina, as they'll be breaking in a new place kicker. With the way NC State struggled in the kicking game last year, I can certainly see that being an issue for the Gamecocks, especially early on in the season. As for strengths, South Carolina has some very talented receivers and it'll be important for them to make an impact in this game if the Gamecocks want to win.
Is NC State’s defensive line as strong as everyone says? Or are they blockable?
They are indeed that strong. Kentavius Street during the summer put up a video of him squatting 700 plus pounds in front of the defense, and they all understandably went nuts when he was able to do it pretty easily. Bradley Chubb could have been an NFL draft pick last year, but chose to return for his senior season. Chubb played every game last season, accumulated 33 solo tackles, 21.5 which were for a loss. When he makes plays, they're usually big plays for the defense.
The biggest key for me in this game is will South Carolina's offensive line be able to make blocks on this defense. If they can, this game is going to be a hell of a battle. If Chubb, Street and company are able to make plays and put pressure on South Carolina's offensive line, it's going to be a long day for the Gamecocks. Can they make blocks? Potentially, but can they sustain it for an entire game? I'm not so confident that they can.
What’s the fan feeling about this match up? Everyone strongly feel it’s a win, or this is going to be a tough game?
I feel that the Wolfpack match up very well against South Carolina. The Wolfpack front seven is their biggest strength, but NC State has a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball as well. Jaylen Samuels, although listed as a tight end originally, can line up literally anywhere on the field and make plays. Whether he's in the backfield, in the slot, out wide - doesn't matter - Jaylen can hit a home run type play from anywhere on the field. Watch out for the wheel route, that's one of his favorites.
Although Matt Dayes has moved on to the NFL, NC State still has a lot of talent in terms of running the ball. In the games that Reggie Gallaspy appeared in last season, he had several big plays and is an incredibly strong north-south running back. Look for Nyheim Hines to also make significant contributions as well. With all that being said, I feel pretty good about this being a win for the Pack, at least based on the rosters.
What are some of NC State’s weaknesses that South Carolina would be able to expose with their talented position groups?
The biggest weakness is the secondary, particularly because Mike Stevens is officially out for the game on Saturday. That leaves the secondary as probably the youngest squad on the team. This is going to put a lot more pressure on the front seven to have a big game.
What South Carolina player makes you the most scared for Saturday?
In my mind, South Carolina's biggest advantage is with their receivers, as I mentioned above, mainly because of the secondary woes that NC State will have Saturday. Deebo Samuel is a stud, and I think if he's able to get into one on one situations, and if Jake Bentley is able to stand in the pocket and make bigtime throws, NC State is going to have a hell of a time winning the game.
Any big injuries that Gamecock fans should know about?
I mentioned it above, but Mike Stevens not being able to play is a tough loss for the Wolfpack. Other than him, I'm not aware of any other major injuries.
Who’s winning this ball game?
I'll go with NC State to win, 34-20. —p.s. he’s wrong, Go Cocks