David Cloninger

Cloninger’s pick: How USC defense handles A&M attack is key


I suppose it could go two ways.

Whatever’s ailing Texas A&M could not be resolved by Saturday and the Aggies could put on another flustered offensive performance. That would give South Carolina a chance and if it can put some 7s on the scoreboard instead of 3s, the Gamecocks could pull it off.

It could also go that the Aggies, a week after playing a really bad game, will respond with a clinic of perfect football and douse USC’s hopes so fast the Gamecocks will be back in Columbia in time for tricks and treats.

The glaring issue is how USC’s defense will respond to whoever’s playing quarterback at A&M, and how the Aggies’ offense operates. That hasn’t changed from last year – they like speed, they like to throw quickly. Whoever’s under center will most likely have wide-open lanes underneath for a fast pass, because USC has consistently refused to try to take them away.

All it takes is one or perhaps two completions in a row to get in a rhythm, and while Perry Orth and Company might have a more fluid plan, they still don’t have the playmakers to hang on for every long.

Enjoy the day, or enjoy the rest of the day if you’re at home. A&M is one of the nation’s best football atmospheres.

That’s probably going to be the highlight of the day.