Bob Davie had a birds-eye view for Act III of the five-game implosion last season that cost USC a bowl berth, a top-10 ranking and all the rest.
Davie was in Fayetteville, Ark., the November night Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden rushed for an SEC record-tying 321 yards in the Hogs’ 48-36 dismantling of the Gamecocks.
Davie served as the color analyst on the ESPN2 broadcast, as he will for the USC-Tennessee game on Saturday. The former Notre Dame coach does not expect to see a repeat performance from the SEC’s top-ranked defense.
“They just kind of melted down defensively, particularly against the run,” Davie said of the ’07 Arky game. “Their defense (is) playing so good right now. They’re healthy on defense. They’re stopping the run on defense. I think that gives them a great opportunity to finish strong.”
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The Gamecocks were without linebacker Jasper Brinkley and defensive tackle Nathan Pepper, both out with season-ending knee injuries, last year at this time, then lost cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to a foot injury near the end of the Arkansas game.
USC’s most serious injury on defense this year is a knee injury to walk-on defensive back Mike Newton.
Offensively, Davie said USC quarterback Stephen Garcia is “fun to watch,” but added the redshirt freshman is going through “some growing pains.” Some of those pains came from the six times Garcia was sacked vs. LSU.
Because he’s working the game, Davie declined to pick a winner but said the Gamecocks, 6-point favorites, have more offensive weapons than the Vols.
About the Gamecocks, Davie said: “I don’t think there’s any question that overall when I look at them, they’re on the upswing. I really believe that. Their talent level to me – a lot of those guys on defense are the same names as last year, only a year older a year more mature.”