No. 12 South Carolina will play host to the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday afternoon in Columbia. Kickoff is set for Noon and the game will be televised regionally on CBS. This article takes a look at what the Gamecocks must do well to ensure victory.
Defensive end Devin Taylor and the rest of the South Carolina defense need to force turnovers and find a way to get off the field on third down to have a great chance of ensuring victory against Arkansas on Saturday at noon on CBS
1. Pressure Tyler Wilson – While Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson has only been sacked twelve times this season, most teams have been able to generate pressure on him with consistency. South Carolina’s defensive line will be one of the best the Razorbacks have faced so far this season an their offensive line is not as strong as it has been in recent years. The Gamecock defense must control the line of scrimmage and make life uncomfortable for Wilson.
2. Contain Cobi Hamilton – Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton leads the SEC by a large margin with 69 catches for 1,077 yards and four touchdowns. Only one other receiver in the conference has over 60 catches and no other player has over 850 yards on the season. The next closest Razorback receiver is Brandon Mitchell, who only has 15 catches on the season and is currently suspended. Translation - South Carolina has to make someone else beat them, which will be easier said than done.
3. Force turnovers – Arkansas ranks dead last in the conference in turnover margin, having given the ball away 21 times while only forcing 10 turnovers this season. Such a drastic difference is a recipe for losing football games, and South Carolina needs to make sure that trend continues by winning the turnover margin on Saturday afternoon.
4. Get off the field on third down – Carolina has struggled getting off the field on third down against Arkansas in recent years, and it’s a big reason why the Razorbacks have had so much success offensively against the Gamecocks. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has made some personnel changes in the secondary this week in an effort to improve secondary play over two weeks ago against Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, the defensive line must get pressure on third down, but the secondary must also cover well enough for the defense to get off the field when they have the opportunity.
5. Keep it rolling offensively – South Carolina has been a different team on offense at home this season, averaging right at 40 points per game. Arkansas has only played two road games all season and gave up 58 points to Texas A&M, the only productive offense the Razorbacks have faced away from home. In that contest, Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel racked up over 500 yards of total offense and accounted for four touchdowns. Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw isn’t quite on Manziel’s level, but he has an opportunity for another great game in front of the home crowd this weekend.
Final analysis – Provided South Carolina emerges from the locker room a focused team who is ready to play, they should win this game. Arkansas is a team in disarray with significant personnel issues on both sides of the ball. While they’ve won three of their last four games, they really haven’t beaten any one of consequence and haven’t looked very good even in their wins.
With that said, this is a Razorback team who has presented significant matchup problems for the Gamecocks the last three years and Steve Spurrier’s team will need to play well to notch the victory. I’m predicting they will do just that.
Prediction – South Carolina 38 Arkansas 20