Josh Kendall

The Gamecock soft spot that will be tested most this week

As we’ve pointed out several times in this space all season, sometimes there are snippets that stand out of from the thousands and thousands of words we ask these coaches and players to say throughout a season.

We heard another Saturday night after South Carolina beat Western Carolina 44-31.

“We have to get faster as a team, but it shows up a lot on defense in space,” Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said. “We have to get guys who can close and make plays in space better.”

Muschamp has hit on this theme on several occasions throughout his first year at South Carolina, but it was never more pertinent than it is this week. Saturday’s opponent, No. 4 Clemson, has the most potent offense South Carolina has seen all season.

The Tigers are ranked No. 18 in the country in scoring (38.5 points per game), better than any of the Gamecocks previous 11 opponents this season. South Carolina is ranked No. 27 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 22 points per game, but it hasn’t seen a collection of offensive talent like it will see Saturday night in Memorial Stadium.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Wide receivers Mike Williams and Deon Cain (and Artavis Scott and Ray-Ray McCloud). Tight end Jordan Leggett. Running back Wayne Gallman. These are dudes that have to be tackled in space, and it won’t be an easy task for South Carolina.

If the Gamecocks are going to pull an upset, and it would be a big upset considering they are 23.5-point underdogs at the moment, they will have to have their best tackling game of the season in their final regular season game.