Reversing the curse
Arkansas has beaten South Carolina three straight times, and Razorbacks coach John L. Smith even went so far this week as to call it a tradition. Smith is looking for anything to get his team going. Arkansas is probably the biggest disappointment in the country, having started the season talking about winning a national title and now sitting at 4-5. However, its players say they will have confidence against the Gamecocks thanks to their recent success. This was to be the last year these two teams faced as regular opponents, but the SEC was unable to iron out a permanent scheduling model, meaning the Razorbacks are back on the schedule next year.
Marcus Lattimore will be honored during the game as his name is unveiled as part of the ramp signage in Williams-Brice Stadium. Lattimore will be honored for his 38 career rushing touchdowns, which is the school record. Originally Steve Spurrier thought, and said, that Lattimore would attend the game for the ceremony, but the school announced Thursday that Lattimore and his doctors had decided that would not be a good idea. Spurrier was no doubt looking forward to the emotional lift Lattimore would have given the crowd, but now the Williams-Brice faithful will have to create their own excitement for the noon kickoff.
This is not a great week to have issues in the secondary because the Razorbacks can still throw the football. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson leads the SEC in passing with more than 315 yards game, and the Gamecocks have been juggling their defensive backs all week. Safety D.J. Swearinger, an All-SEC candidate, could start at cornerback Saturday, and senior DeVonte Holloman may go back to safety after playing the first nine games at spur. Damario Jeffery might be moved to the spur spot. Or South Carolina might scrap the whole shakeup and hope cornerbacks Vic Hampton, Jimmy Legree and Akeem Auguste are healthy and can provide a bounce-back performance. The Gamecocks gave up 381 passing yards to Tennessee last week.
As for the Gamecock offense ...
Its hard to know what youll see. South Carolina is 10th in the SEC in total offense with 372.1 yards per game. Quarterback Connor Shaw, who was limited in practice this week by a foot injury, is 10th in the league in passing 167.2 yards per game through the air, but he is coming off a career-high 356 yards against the Volunteers. The bad news about that is Tennessee is 14th in the SEC. The good news is Arkansas pass defense is only slightly better, 13th in the SEC, giving up 292.4 yards per game. The Razorbacks rushing defense is fifth in the league, but they only be because its so easy to throw against the Hogs. Arkansas is 12th in scoring defense, allowing 29.1 points per game.
Among the preseason goals that are still attainable is a perfect home record. South Carolina hasnt won all its home games since it was 7-0 in 1987. Saturdays game and next weeks against Wofford are the only home games left on the schedule. The Gamecocks have won nine straight at home, which is the third-longest streak in school history. The record is 15 in a row, set from 1978-1980. That record could be within striking distance as the next six games in Williams-Brice Stadium will be against the Razorbacks, Wofford, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Mississippi State.