Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Carolina Preview: Offense

While Georgia awaits an official word on A.J., South Carolina faces eligibility issues on offense as well . They could possibly miss two starters on offense in LT Jarriel King (agent-gate), and will miss TE Weslye Saunders, who is suspended indefinitely. Neither of these guys played last week against Southern Miss, but Spurrier is "optimistic" that King will be cleared by the NCAA.

Although the Cocks looked formidable last Thursday, last season was a different story. They ranked 11th in the SEC in scoring offense (20.6 ppg) and 9th in total offense (347.4 ypg). Against Southern Miss, they accumulated 441 yards of offense and scored 41 points. They also averaged 6.9 yards per play against Southern Miss, but only 5.2 last season.

Spurrier's modus operandi on offense: Contrary to popular belief, I would argue at South Carolina his offense is based more on play-action passing from the run game as opposed to straight drop back passing. Either way, they should be airing it out against the Dawgs' Saturday.

Now, lets take a look at each position group:

#7 Stephen Garcia (6-2 230), who has been in and out of Spurrier's doghouse so many times I lost track two years ago, will start for USCe. Here are his numbers last year: 239/432 2862 yds 17 TDs and 10 INTs. He also ran for 186 yards. Against Southern Miss he was 16/23 for 193 yards 0 Td and 0 INT while he ran for 38 yards. Freshman #14 Connor Shaw (6-1 202) should also see playing time Saturday. Against Southern Miss he was 4/5 32 yards with 1 TD and also ran for 31 yards. It was reported during Fall Camp that Shaw was ahead of Garcia at one point, so don't be surprised if he gets significantly more playing time as the season rolls along.

Running Backs: The top back for USCe is freshman #21 Marcus Lattimore (5-11 215). He was arguably to top running back in the 2010 class and should get the bulk of the carries this season. Against Southern Miss he ran for 54 yards on 14 carries, scoring 2 TDs. He also had 2 rec. for 21 yards. #31 Kenny Miles (5-9 187) is the backup and USCe's leading returning rusher. He ran for 621 yards and 1 TD last year and ran for 24 yards against S. Miss. #10 Brian Maddox, who ran for 307 yards last year also returns. Also returning is FB/TE #47 Patrick DiMarcco.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:
The top returning receiver is #1 Alshon Jeffery (6-4 237). He caught 46 passes last year for 763 yards and 6 TDs. Against S. Miss he had 7 rec. for 106 yards. TE #88 Weslye Saunders would be the second option, but won't play (discussed above). Other top receivers are WR #81 Tori Gurley (6-5 230) 31 rec. 440 yds 2 TDs last year and #4 Jason Barnes (6-4 206) who had 26 rec. for 287 yds last year. Other backups are #82 DL Moore, #19 DeAngelo Smith, #9 Ace Sanders, and # 80 DeMario Bennett. Saunders' backups are FB/TE #47 Patrick DiMarcco (will probably play TE with Saunders out), TEs #87 Justice Cunningham and #89 Mike Triglia.

Offensive Line: This is a little bit of an unknown heading into Saturday's game. As mentioned above, the status of starting LT #76 Jarriel King is still uncertain, though it looks like he might play. Also still unclear is LG #60 Terrence Campbell who has started some games and sprained his ankle last week. Assuming these guys play, S. Car. returns four starters from last year's squad as well as 72 combined starts. Last season, they ranked dead last in the SEC in sacks allowed (37) and allowed three sacks against Southern Miss (yes, I realize some of this could be on the QB). USCe also ranked dead last in the SEC in rush yards per game (121.23) AND yards per carry (3.62) last year. Those numbers should improve because of experience but overall this could be Carolina's weakest position group. Other starting linemen are C #55 TJ Johnson, RG #73 Rokevious Watkins, RT #66 Hutch Eckerson, and G #77 Garrett Chisolm should also see playing time.

Place Kicker: The Cocks return #34 Spencer Lanning, who was 17/20 on FGs last year with a long of 47 and made 28/29 extra points. Against Southern Miss he nailed his two field goal attempts (36 and 42 yards) and was 5/5 on extra points.

Here is the projected Carolina depth chart for Saturday's game:

QB: Jr. #7 Stephen Garcia/#14 Connor Shaw
RB: Fr. #21 Marcus Lattimore/#31 Kenny Miles
FB/TE: #47 Patrick DiMarcco
WR: #1 Alshon Jeffery/#19 DeAngelo Smith
WR: #82 DL Moore/#4 Jason Barnes
WR: #81 Tori Gurley/#9 Ace Sanders
LT: *#76 Jarriel King
LG: #77 Garrett Chisolm
C: #55 TJ Johnson
RG: #73 Rokavious Watkins/#60 Terrence Campbell
RT: #66 Hutch Eckerson
PK: #34 Spencer Lanning

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