The blueprint’s out on how to beat South Carolina this season.

Rely on your quarterback and push tempo. And that’s what East Carolina, the Gamecocks’ Week 2 opponent, does best.

Led by talented passer Shane Carden and a bevy of athletic wide receivers, the Pirates have to like their chances Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium after watching last week’s Texas A&M tape, a three-hour horror reel of bad angles, broken coverages and miscommunication.

Carden’s one of the nation’s most accurate in Lincoln Riley’s quick-pass scheme, an offense that plays to the two-year starter’s strengths. Designed to expose holes create mismatches in defenses using short, high-percentage throws, the Air Raid’s success depends on execution and Carden’s proved he can deliver, completing 70.5 percent of his passes last fall for 4,139 yards and 33 touchdowns.

East Carolina’s 328.1 passing yards per game during the 2013 campaign was tops in Conference USA and 11th nationally — not the ideal scenario for a South Carolina defense that gave up 511 yards through the air last Thursday and a school-record 680 total yards.

ECU QB Shane Carden By The Numbers

  • 7,538 yards and 59 touchdown passes in 27 career games
  • 68 percent career completion percentage
  • 9 300-yard games, 3 400-yard games
  • 10 starts with at least 3 TD passes

In 2012, the Gamecocks beat the Pirates by 38 points at home thanks to a consistent pass rush and veteran-heavy defense that generated five turnovers (two fumbles, three interceptions). Carden threw his first college pass in that outing after subbing in for turnover-prone Rio Johnson.

Two years later, Carden’s first throw on Saturday will be his 1,000th career pass at East Carolina.

Forcing him out of the pocket and away from his rhythmic comfort zone is a must for the Gamecocks. Against the Aggies, South Carolina struggled with Texas A&M’s strength up front and Kenny Hill made the secondary pay.

Was it a one-game anomaly or a sign of things to come for a defense coming to grips with the harsh reality of no Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles, Chaz Sutton, Jimmy Legree or Victor Hampton?

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward hasn’t spoken with the media since shouldering the blame last week, but recent reports suggest four-star freshman cornerback Wesley Green is expected to play this week after not dressing against Texas A&M.

According to Tony Morrell of, Green expressed an interest in redshirting to the coaching staff and the Gamecocks obliged. That’s no longer an option however after last week’s rapid demise in the secondary.

Based on the latest line, South Carolina’s a 16-point favorite Saturday night, but this one’s no gimme. East Carolina’s coming off a 10-win season, only the second time in program history the Pirates have posted a double-digit win total.