When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
TV: SEC Network Alternate (Time Warner Cable/Spectrum Channel 385)
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Radio: 107.5 FM
Three Story Lines
1. Going bowling: It’s pretty simple. If South Carolina wins, it’s heading to the postseason for the 10th time in 12 years. Considering how young the Gamecocks are and the state of their roster, that would be a big step in the first year of the Will Muschamp era.
2. Bad memories: The lowest point of last year’s 3-9 season came this week in the pre-Clemson FCS tuneup. That game saw The Citadel embarrass the Gamecocks defense with an option attack and wall up USC’s running game. Western Carolina is a different challenge, but those memories still loom.
3. Strength vs. Strength: The Gamecocks have been led by a decent defense with the offense coming along with infusions of youth. Western Carolina is simply a bad defensive team, even for the FCS level, but the offense has pretty decent pop.
Three Players to Watch
1. Quarterback Tyrie Adams is a high-usage trigger man at the heart of the Catamount attack. He’s thrown for 2,437 yards, 15 scores and nine interceptions on 32-plus attempts a game, while carrying the ball 110 times for 265 yards (451 discounting sacks).
2. Running back Detrez Newsome is a workhorse back who provides a lot each time he gets the ball. His 135 carries are 100 more than any other runner beside Adams and have produced 916 yards (6.8 per carry) and nine scores. He’s also the team’s No. 3 reviver with 30 catches and 332 yards.
3. Wide receiver Terryon Robinson isn’t a big guy (5-foot-11, 190 pounds), but he carries the load with 70 catches, 25 more than anyone else, and 729 yards. He’s complemented by 6-foot-4 Spearman Robinson, a Greenwood, S.C., product.
▪ The Catamounts rely heavily on a three-receiver, one-tight end group, often moving the tight end around as a receiver or fullback.
▪ Although the run-pass balance has been even, the offense still leads with a running game built on a wide array of concepts, especially counter. The passing game doesn’t involve many straight dropbacks, relying much more heavily on run-pass option plays.
▪ At times, the Catamounts can play extremely fast, but they still only average 65.9 plays a game, a relatively low total.
▪ Western’s defense has a listed 4-3 base, but it doesn’t play that way. The front is far more amorphous, playing three-down and occasionally two-down looks.
▪ WCU has OK, but not great, size on defense, yet they aren’t very good tacklers.
▪ The Catamounts also struggle to generate big plays, with just nine sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles.