Thursday, September 28, 2006

Auburn preview

7:45 ESPN
Williams-Brice Stadium Columbia, SC
Auburn -14 O/U 37

By the fifth game of the season, everyone is starting to get an idea how the season is going to unfold. With that in mind, this preview will be less about match-ups and more focused on what SC needs to do to win.

News out of Auburn this week

Little has changed for Auburn. Running back Kenny Irons (if you don't know who he is watch on Thursday, you will) is back after sitting out the Buffalo game. He is 100% and the single biggest obstacle for the Gamecocks to overcome. His brother, #4 CB David Irons, has been running his mouth most of the week about how he is going to cover Sidney one-on-one. Auburn is often found in man coverage, but they are unlikely to do that against Sidney. If they are dumb enough to do that, it may not matter if Syvelle or Blake is lying on his back. (more on that later).

South Carolina this week

Syvelle is going to start. After throwing a school record 5 touchdown passes last week why shouldn't he? Cory Boyd wants to play badly and has said that he will come hell or high water. Spurrier interjected that Boyd will only play if he is 100%. With the vagaries of ankle injuries being what they are, Boyd's status will be a gametime decision.

What probably will happen

Auburn will score ... a lot. This game has the potential to be similar in score to last year. The only thing that makes me hesitant to call this a for sure blowout is the vegas line of 14. For some reason (probably because they are experts and have millions of dollars riding on the accuracy of their lines) Vegas tends to be really accurate for the most part with their lines no matter how ridiculous they seem when they open on Monday.

Look for a heavy dose of Kenny Irons and a South Carolina defense that can only hope to contain him. Look for SC's o-line to be overpowered and outmatched all game. This isn't what is going to happen or what has to happen, but it is what is most likely to happen.

That being said, it will still be worth the Gamecocks time to show up and try to win. They can in fact win, but they need many things to go their way.

How South Carolina can win

1. Make Auburn pass

Why - Because it's not running. Auburn is second in the conference and twenty-seventh in the nation in rushing offense averaging 184 ypg. They are seventh in conference and 69th in the nation in passing averaging 183 ypg. Conversely South Carolina is 11th in the conference and 101st in the nation in rushing defense (remember 290 yds by Wofford). The big suprise is SC is 2nd in conference and 3rd in the nation in pass defense. SC has to have the game play to its strengths.

How can USC possibly make Auburn abandon its vaunted running game? By making it ineffective. South Carolina will have to stack the box and have career games from its defensive linemen and linebackers. Corners will be left on islands, and if that wasn't bad enough they are going to have to be strong in run support as well (Fred, I'm looking your way).

2. Get some turnovers

The value of turnovers has been extolled for generations. A rudimentary recounting of their importance would only waste time here. A big part of turnovers is being in the right place at the right time and having the offense commit mistakes. Admittedly there is an element of luck involved, but that element will have to be heavily in South Carolina's favor to pull off the shocker.

3. Get good field position

Field position makes scoring easier. It also magnifies opponent's mistakes while minimizing your own. USC will not start in good field position after Auburn kicks off. Something like 88% of their kicker's kicks go for touchbacks. SC can win the punting game though. USC is #1 in the country in net punting averaging 43 yards per punt. This sometimes overlooked factor will play a big part if South Carolina wins the game.

4. Score

Seems obvious doesn't it? USC has to maximize its opportunities. Think the opposite of the Georgia game (something like Tennessee last year shoud do). SC needs to get into scoring position more than a few times. FGs made at a bare minimum, and more likely USC needs TDs every chance they get.

5. Block someone

SC has to find a way for the offensive line to block. The mistakes being made by this line so far this season include pretty much every one known: missed assignments, slow reaction, false starts, holding, and plain old getting beat. Running lanes would be something nice to ask for from this group, but it might be too much to ask. Pass protection (which is easier to do than run blocking) has to be priority one. This line has had parts of games here and there where they gave adequate protection. For South Carolina to win, the protection must be better than here and there.

4 comments:

A-Dubs said...

GO COCKS!!!

Moose said...

The general is back and better then ever. Man we will need a miracle tonight to even keep it close. They are just to big and to fast.

General Malaise said...

I think Ritch's post above is a more succinct preview of the game and may be more accurate.

Moose said...

who Killed Kenny??????