SEC Kickoff: Everything you need to know about UNC at South Carolina

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Here’s everything you need to know about UNC at #6 South Carolina.

 

When: Thursday, August 29th
Where: Columbia, South Carolina
Game Time: 6:00 PM ET
TV: ESPN
Current Line: South Carolina (-12)

Game Buzz: The South Carolina-North Carolina border battle kicks off the 2013 college football season. The Heels lead the all-time series 34-17-4. The last time these two met was back in 2007, where South Carolina won 21-15, withstanding a late rally by UNC.

SDS previews

#6 South Carolina Gamecocks

Players to watch:

  • DE Jadeveon Clowney
  • QB Connor Shaw
  • QB Dylan Thompson
  • RB Mike Davis
  • RB Brandon Wilds
  • OL AJ Cann
  • DT Kelcy Quarles
  • DE Chaz Sutton
  • CB Victor Hampton

Freshmen to watch:

  • LB Larenz Bryant
  • LB Skai Moore
  • WR Pharoh Cooper
  • RB David Williams

North Carolina players to watch:

  • QB Bryn Renner
  • RB AJ Blue
  • WR Quinshad Davis
  • TE Eric Ebron
  • OT James Hurst
  • DE Kareem Martin
  • FS Tre Boston

Keys for South Carolina:

  • Get RBs Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds going early and often. The Gamecocks are 9-1 without Marcus Lattimore the last two years.
  • Dominate the line of scrimmage with the defensive line and Clowney. Put pressure on QB Bryn Renner and expose the weakest aspect of the Heels’ offense: O-line.
  • Get the early lead, and put UNC away with the running game late in the second half.
  • South Carolina is 31-5 in the last five years at Williams-Brice - use the energy of the home crowd to help fuel an early lead.

USC glaring weakness to watch: Linebackers – USC lost top five tacklers at the position. 2013’s group may be inexperienced, but they’re more athletic and much faster than previous years. Does that equate to better play? We’re going to find out.

Key matchups to watch:

  • UNC OT James Hurst vs. Jadeveon Clowney: Will we hear Hurst’s name called for all the wrong reasons? He’s a future NFL offensive tackle going against a future NFL end in Clowney. This should be a sexy matchup to watch, although UNC will put two — sometimes three — different blockers on Clowney. The last time Clowney played an ACC school, he racked up a school-record 4.5 sacks against Clemson.
  • USC OL vs. UNC DL: The biggest weakness on Carolina’s offense last season was the O-line. Their improvement will be under the microscope against future NFL DE Kareem Martin.

Most interesting part of the game: Seeing how Steve Spurrier rotates his quarterbacks. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will both play; it’s a matter of when and in what situation will they play. Will Spurrier rotate quarterbacks, or will he stick with Shaw for 90 percent of the snaps? Will we even see Dylan Thompson? It’s going to be interesting to find out.

Team Buzz: Coming on the heels of back-to-back 11-win seasons, South Carolina enters as a top 10 program in the hunt for a national championship, but many think they can’t win it due to the lack of an ‘elite’ QB and losing Marcus Lattimore. Shaw is 17-3 as a starter, and USC is 9-1 without Lattimore in the last two years. The offense and running game will be fine, led by an improved offensive line. The Gamecocks lose five top tacklers at linebacker, and that’s the biggest liability and question mark on defense. Hell raiser Jadeveon Clowney returns to wreak havoc on the Tar Heels, and he starts his 2013 Heisman campaign tonight.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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