The Last Word
By Randall Stewart
The East Carolina matchup wasn’t exactly one that Gamecock fans circled on the calendar when this year’s schedule came out. And there’s good reason for that. While the Pirates have beaten some quality opponents in not that long ago, more recent permutations of the team have become known for struggling to reach .500, not contending for Conference USA titles, and having defenses that rank among the most porous in college football.
With so many starters returning, it’s inevitable that this year’s team will be better than the last two that combined to go 11-14. But in all honesty, this game doesn’t give South Carolina anything to worry about. Even with Connor Shaw potentially on the shelf with a bum shoulder, expect the Gamecocks to score in the 30′s on Saturday afternoon. It’s a good week to test the rushing attack and see what the Gamecocks really have, as the running backs will face a test from the Pirates’ semi-solid linebacking corps. With the likelihood of Dylan Thompson taking the majority of the snaps under center, this figures to be a run-heavy game from a playcalling perspective.
Defensively, the Gamecocks should be just fine. The secondary was rocked in this game a year ago, but looked great on Thursday night in Nashville. Were it not for one mental error, the defense would have held Vanderbilt without a touchdown. Look for more of the same this week.
All in all, East Carolina is an opponent that the Gamecocks shouldn’t take lightly, but shouldn’t have any trouble defeating.
Final score: 38-16 Gamecocks