South Carolina Visits LSU

South Carolina visits Tiger Stadium to face LSU. The Gamecocks have won two straight to even their record. LSU lost two of its first three.

South Carolina pulled off a significant upset of Auburn last Saturday. The Gamecocks made use of three interceptions to set up their offense in the Tigers’ territory. Subsequently, USC scored a touchdown during all three possessions. The Garnet and Black defense limited Auburn to just one field goal in both the third and fourth quarters to emerge victoriously. South Carolina has confidence heading to LSU.

LSU had an unscheduled open-date last weekend due to Florida’s high number of players exposed to COVID-19. That cancellation proved beneficial to the Tigers. The starting quarterback, Myles Brennan, has been recovering from a torn abdominal muscle. The defense has been reeling from confusion and inexperience. A pause could help salvage the season.

LSU holds the advantage in this series, 18-2-1. The Fighting Tigers have won 11 of the 12 games played in Baton Rouge. Further, LSU has won the six most recent meetings.

South Carolina Visits LSU

LSU’s Need to Avoid Third Down and Long

Brennan sustained a torn abdominal muscle at Missouri. It seems very unlikely that he will be able to play on Saturday. Which true freshman quarterback will take his place, Max Johnson or T.J. Finley? Head coach Ed Orgeron has stated that both will play against South Carolina.

Regardless of which quarterback will play for LSU, the rest of the offense must ramp up its production. Ty Davis-Price and John Emory Jr. have to carry the ball more.  Emory stands out as the only Tigers’ running back to have exceeded 50 rushing yards in a game so far. Emory and Davis-Price had more than nine carries in a game only once each. A consistent and productive rushing attack would keep the offense out of third down and five or more yards situations. Otherwise, the inexperienced quarterback will be forced to throw downfield in obvious passing situations or Zach Von Rosenberg will be very busy punting.

The new guy taking snaps from the center will need help from everyone else as well, specifically catching the ball. Terrance Marshall Jr. compiled triple-digit totals of receiving yards in two games, the only Tiger to have any to this point. Jaray Jenkins, Racey McMath, and Arik Gilbert have turned in 50 or more receiving yards in one game apiece.

South Carolina’s Limited Receiving Corps vs. the Reeling Secondary of LSU

Shi Smith has served as the keystone of the Gamecocks’ passing attack. He is one of only two receivers who have caught a double-digit number of passes so far. In fact, he has caught more passes (34) for more yards (347) than the combined total by players in second, third, and fourth place on the team (33 for 340). He has hauled in three of USC’s four touchdown passes.

Jalen Brooks has finally been cleared by the NCAA after transferring from Tarleton State.  He had played for two years at Wingate, a Division II program. He had 52 receptions for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns. Could he possibly contribute in any way to the offense despite such little time with the team?

LSU’s defensive backs have looked chaotic and ill-prepared for much of their time on the field. Mississippi State torched them for 623 passing yards, more than twice the amount that Bulldogs compiled against any of their three other opponents. Missouri threw for 406 yards against LSU while Alabama and Tennessee allowed a combined number of 471 yards to Mizzou.

What is LSU’s Incentive for the Remainder of the Season?

Two losses so early in the season have rendered any chances of returning to the Southeastern Conference Championship Game practically impossible. Therefore, what is the 2020 version of Fightin’ Tigers playing for? Do they care about avoiding LSU’s first losing season since 1999? Are they motivated to continue the run of at least eight wins per season in the past 19 years, tied for the longest current streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision?

Conclusion

South Carolina started the season by dropping its first two games against opponents who were ranked at the time. USC enters this game riding a two-game winning streak. With two losses already against fellow members of the SEC Eastern Division, a trip to the SEC Championship Game realistically stands out of reach. However, the Gamecocks still have a reasonable shot at finishing with a winning season. Head coach Will Muschamp is targeting that goal in order to keep his job.

LSU has flopped to a 1-2 start against a trio of teams that the Tigers were expected to dominate. After two weeks of mulling over their stumbling and bumbling, the direction of the season hangs in the balance. Two weeks does not seem like enough time to resolve the defensive problems and prepare a true freshman to start a game.

Prediction: South Carolina 30, LSU 20

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