The Daily Gamecock

Gamecocks host Bulldogs hoping for quick win


It’s already Week 12 of the college football season, which means it’s time for SEC teams to play their annual FCS opponent.

South Carolina draws The Citadel (7-3) this week. In past years, this would be an easy game and an opportunity to showcase the backups. Under current circumstances, however, the 3-7 Gamecocks might struggle with the Southern Conference champions.

The Bulldogs have upset the Gamecocks before, back in 1990, but South Carolina holds the distinct edge this weekend. South Carolina interim head coach Shawn Elliott has his Gamecocks primed and ready for Saturday and won’t overlook the Bulldogs, even with an opportunity to upset Clemson next week.

The Gamecocks do not need to play perfectly to win Saturday, but there are three key things fans should look for this weekend:

1. Defensive line adjustments - It seems like every week, fans and analysts alike clamor for the Gamecock defensive front to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This week, however, their job will be different.

Against Citadel’s triple option attack, the defensive line must first stay disciplined. Typically, the offensive line will leave the defensive end unblocked. The quarterback will then read the defensive end and will choose whether or not to hand the ball off based solely upon what that end does. Similarly, if the quarterback keeps the ball, he will read the end once more and decide from there whether or not to pitch it. The Gamecock defensive ends will be tasked with containing the play rather than making the play against the Bulldogs. Often defenses fail against the option when the team is more concerned with making plays than staying disciplined and letting other players make the tackle.

2. Another receiver should step up - Junior receiver Pharoh Cooper has 51 catches and six touchdowns this season, but no other wide receiver has more than 10 receptions.

Freshmen Deebo Samuel and D.J. Neal will both return from injuries this Saturday and could provide a boost in the passing game. Both have shown flashes of ability this season, but with the quarterback carousel and nagging injuries, neither has had a breakout game.

Against a lesser opponent, junior quarterback Perry Orth will likely look their way in hopes of developing confidence heading into the Clemson matchup.

3. Backups should get some playing time - The goal anytime a Power Five school plays an FCS opponent is to get ahead quickly so the coaches get an opportunity to see some of the backups in a game situation.

Last year, both Orth and redshirt sophomore quarterback Connor Mitch saw action against Furman. A freshman at the time, running back David Williams ran for 110 yards against the Paladins.

This year, it is especially important for the younger players to see some playing time. Recruits and coaches alike want to know what kind of talent they would potentially be working with in the future, should they choose to come to South Carolina.

Against the triple option, the Gamecocks will likely rotate players often to keep the defense fresh. If the offense can build a quick lead, some backups will likely get the chance to play in front of their home crowd and showcase their skills.