The South Carolina football team returns to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday afternoon for a showdown with Louisiana Tech.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET. Here are the predictions from SEC Country contributors Mike Chapman and Hale McGranahan:
Mike Chapman: South Carolina 27, Louisiana Tech 20
How a team responds after a loss can really give you an indication of what you really have and we’ll get to see how the Gamecocks rebound from last Saturday’s disaster. There’s no doubt in my mind that South Carolina wins this Saturday against Louisiana Tech, but how they win is what I am really interested in seeing.
Three questions I would like to see answered this week.
- First, what will the Gamecocks’ offensive identity be moving forward the rest of the way without Deebo Samuel?
- Second, will the new offensive line minus starter Zack Bailey be able to create some push to open up the running lanes for the backs?
- Third, are we going to see the Jake Bentley that completed 16 passes in a row or the Jake Bentley who started the game with a bang, and then proceeded to miss his next six throws.
RELATED: The Gamecocks’ new kick returner
I think the key to making sure that all these questions are answered is for the team to win by relying on the running game. And I don’t mean calling a bunch of run-pass option plays, but instead call run-run option plays.
Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper needs to go run-heavy during this game, to find out which plays they can run effectively and which plays they need to scrap all together. If they’re able to run the ball, which I think they will, then the play-action pass should open up and allow Gamecock fans to see good Jake, not bad Jake.
The box score at the end of the game on Saturday should have Carolina with over 200 yards on the ground, and each back with at least 10 touches and 50-plus rushing yards. The box score should also show a dominant passing performance from Bentley by spreading the ball over the field, to help replace the loss of Samuel, because there is not just one player on this roster who can do what he did for the Gamecocks.
I see South Carolina turning their season around after a tough loss, finding their offensive identity and leaving Williams Brice Stadium with a 3-1 record.
Hale McGranahan: South Carolina 20, Louisiana Tech 13
I’m in lock-step with Mike on this one. We have a chance to learn a lot about this team’s resolve this week as they try to rebound from a tough loss and figure out how to move forward without their best player.
Replacing Deebo Samuel will be tough, no doubt, but there are several of talented, hungry playmakers in that wide receiver group that have an opportunity to step into the spotlight against a defense that’s given up over 204 yards passing per game.
The first name to keep an eye out for is Randrecous Davis, a redshirt freshman who’s battled a handful of soft-tissue injuries throughout his short career at South Carolina. The other, freshman OrTre Smith, caught his first pass last Saturday night against Kentucky, which just so happened to go for a touchdown.
An injury to right tackle Zack Bailey adds a little extra to the offensive headache, but his replacement, Malik Young, started nine games at the position last season.
Fortunately, for South Carolina, this is the game to find some answers, before they get into the teeth of the schedule.
And given the way things played out last Saturday night, I don’t see a scenario where the Gamecocks get caught looking ahead to next weekend’s trip to College Station for a meeting with Texas A&M.