A passing problem?
Here’s the good news: South Carolina’s passing yardage has increased every week. The bad news: It topped out at 236 yards last week against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks are completing fewer than 52 percent of their passes this season. “We are going to need to pass the ball better, we know that,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We are sort of seeing a style of defense the other teams are playing, get an extra guy up there, so we better start throwing the ball if we’re going to have a good offense. They are going to stop Marcus (Lattimore) first. That has to be the goal of every defense we play. They can’t let him romp up and down the field.”
More, not less, Lattimore
Speaking of Lattimore, two weeks ago Spurrier said he wanted to get his most important offensive weapon more rest. That doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. With junior backup running back Kenny Miles out for the second straight week due to a sprained wrist, the only scholarship backups are Eric Baker and Brandon Wilds. Baker has four carries for 3 yards, and Wilds has four carries for 22 yards this season. Asked this week how many carries Lattimore will get today, running back coach Jay Graham responded, “As many as it takes. It depends on how the game goes.”
These Tigers have different stripes
Auburn had to replace eight starters each on offense and defense this season. Quarterback Cam Newton, defensive tackle Nick Fairley and four offensive linemen are among the departures. The offense has survived better than the defense thus far but not much better. Auburn is eighth in the SEC in yards per game (373.8) and last in total defense (477.5). Florida Atlantic, which has the worst offense in major college football (164 yards per game), gained 307 last week against the Tigers.
Can defense dominate?
South Carolina is coming off its second most dominating game since at least 1966. The Gamecocks held Vanderbilt to 77 yards. However, the Commodores are last in the SEC in passing offense, and passing offense is what has stressed the Gamecocks defense. Auburn’s offense under coordinator Gus Malzahn is much more complex than Vanderbilt’s offense, which will test another weak point of the South Carolina offense this season – playing the proper assignment. If the Gamecocks can come close to repeating last week’s performance, it will represent a huge step forward. “We hope our defense has sort of found out who our best players are, what our best schemes of defense are,” Spurrier said.
Wounded Warrior uniforms
The Gamecocks will be wearing specially designed uniforms today for the Wounded Warrior Project’s “Believe in Heroes” campaign. “My dad was in the military for 22, and it’s an honor to play for those guys, especially the Wounded Warriors because they have done so much for our country,” South Carolina linebacker Rodney Paulk. “That’s why we are able to sit here right now.” Instead of names on the backs of jerseys, the uniforms will have words such as “Honor” and “Integrity” where the name normally is. The new uniforms will include specially designed gloves and shoes. The Gamecocks will wear their traditional jerseys the remainder of the season. “I am a little bit more of a traditionalist,” Spurrier said. “I am a big believer in traditional colors of a team uniform and so forth.”