Today, the Alabama Crimson Tide travels to Columbia, South Carolina to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. Although South Carolina is coming off a tough loss against the Auburn Tigers, it is mighty tough to go on the road in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and win. Alabama got a chance to experience just how tough it is to win a game on the road in the SEC when they were lucky to escape from Fayetteville, Arkansas with a win against the Arkansas Razorbacks, arguably the best team in the nation. In the game against Arkansas, the very weak defensive secondary of Alabama got exposed against Heisman hopeful Ryan Mallett, as he was able to pass the ball with ease. Although the Arkansas offense was not able to have many possessions in the second half to continue to exploit the Alabama secondary and to get the win, Steve Spurrier had to be salivating during film study looking at how he can continue to exploit this weak secondary.
If his team is going to get a chance to exploit the secondary, three important things will need to happen: (1) The South Carolina defense will need to play well enough to give its offense plenty of opportunities to score; (2) South Carolina’s quarterbacks will need to play smart football and not turn the ball over; (3) South Carolina’s offensive line will need to play well. If South Carolina is able to do these three things, they will beat Alabama. Arkansas showed us that Alabama is certainly a team capable of being beat. South Carolina is a team that can play really physical and the team will need to play physical against Alabama in order to win. Steve Spurrier lives for these types of games—he is such a big game coach. He is one of the most sophisticated and best playcallers in the game.
Do not underestimate South Carolina’s defense—this is a good and physical defense. They will play their best game at home against Alabama today. They will need to benefit from their offense not putting them in difficult situations. The South Carolina defensive coordinator will need to challenge the Alabama Crimson Tide to throw the ball, which will help to keep the Alabama running game out of the picture. They should load the box up and keep single coverage on the wide receivers. I would make someone else beat me besides Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Just think about it, if you get defeated by the Alabama passing game, at least you took away what they do best. I feel that you can live with Alabama passing the ball, but you should not make it so easy for them on offense by just letting them run the ball down your throats.
Expect South Carolina to play particularly well and overcome some adversities at home, and defeat the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide today.
Antonio Maurice Daniels
University of Wisconsin-Madison