Amid distractions, South Carolina prepares to host LSU
If the challenge of facing No. 7 LSU wasn’t enough, South Carolina will do so after dealing with severe flooding that rendered parts of Columbia uninhabitable.
“I haven’t been around the terrible stuff,” Spurrier said. “I am just watching it on television, but this is a major disaster.”
The situation is so dire that it’s possible the game will be moved to Baton Rouge, which would be all the more difficult.
Ray Tanner: “We are not 100 percent sure that we will have a game at Williams-Brice at this time.” Final decision in 24-36 hours
— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) October 6, 2015
Despite the obvious distractions, the Gamecocks will try to turn their attention to improving on the field in the wake of a 24-10 loss to Missouri.
Standing in the way of that goal are the Tigers, who are unbeaten and — aside from a close win over Mississippi State in Starkville — unchallenged so far this season.
Running back Leonard Fournette has stolen all of the headlines with his gaudy numbers (more on that later), but the Tigers aren’t necessarily just a one-man show.
They have a fast, aggressive defense that is second in the SEC in turnover margin and playmakers at wide receiver for those rare occasions that LSU decides to throw the football.
The Tigers aren’t asking quarterback Brandon Harris to do very much. They rank last in the league in passing yards and touchdowns (2) and are 13th in completion percentage (54.1).
This week, LSU coach Les Miles is looking for his receiving corps to help his quarterback out.
“We’re looking at shuffling the lineup,” Miles said. “If we don’t drop balls, we score two more touchdowns and maybe 150 yards more of offense.”
It doesn’t take a football savant to figure out that the Gamecocks need to find some way to make Harris beat them, rather than adding highlights to Fournette’s Heisman reel. However, South Carolina ranks ninth in the SEC against the run, allowing 170 yards per game.
That number will need to be lower on Saturday (noon ET, ESPN) if the Gamecocks want to avoid showing up on the wrong end of a few SportsCenter Top 10 plays.
LSU TIGERS CLOSER LOOK
Top player, offense: Leonard Fournette, So., RB — He’s leading the nation in rushing yards (864), touchdowns (11) and media exposure. The last one isn’t really his fault. His size and speed conjure comparisons to guys like Adrian Peterson and Bo Jackson — so much so that talking heads are wondering aloud if Fournette should sit out his junior season to prepare for the NFL Draft.
To his credit, Fournette dismisses the noise and churns out yardage. His season-low in yards is 159 against Mississippi State, so stopping him may be out of the question on Saturday. However, slowing him down will give South Carolina a chance to pull off the upset.
Top player, defense: Davon Godchaux, So., DT — Godchaux has 18 tackles, 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss from his defensive tackle spot so far this season.
“Yeah, I think both lines are playing really well,” Miles said. “The interior defensive line, LaCouture and … Davon Godchaux. Both those guys are dominant players and making plays, and I enjoy them eminently.”
Top player, special teams: Tre’Davious White, Jr., CB — In addition to his solid work in the Tigers secondary, White is a dangerous punt returner. He scored on a 69-yard return against Syracuse and is second in the SEC, averaging 17 yards per attempt.
Junior punter Sean Kelly has only had three of his 21 punts returned this season, a number that bodes well for keeping the ball out of White’s hands.