East Carolina-South Carolina Preview

CAN GAMECOCKS RIGHT THE SHIP AGAINST A PIRATE CREW? By Reece Funderburk  ||  After a rough loss to then No. 21 Texas A&M to open the season, some University of South Carolina football fans are already counting the 2014 season as a lost cause. With a matchup against the unranked…


reeceBy Reece Funderburk  ||  After a rough loss to then No. 21 Texas A&M to open the season, some University of South Carolina football fans are already counting the 2014 season as a lost cause.

With a matchup against the unranked East Carolina Pirates on Saturday night, though, everyone should get a good scouting report before making any decisions to “jump ship.”

Let’s take a look at the match-ups …


East Carolina: Led by senior Shane Carden, the Pirates’ offense will rise or fall on his capable arm. Coming off a stellar season in which he led the Pirates to just their second double-digit win season ever, Carden will be poised and ready to play even if his offensive line is in shambles.  Carden passed for over 4,000 yards and threw 30 touchdowns in his junior year – and if South Carolina’s defense comes out lackadaisically again, he could get a good start on matching those stats.

South Carolina: We all saw what Dylan Thompson looked like last Saturday and despite the impressive stat line, there was clearly room for improvement.  Thompson had trouble hitting open receivers on shorter routes – and was bailed out by penalties on several deep throws. While some of blame goes on the poor offensive line play, Thompson still needs to settle down in pocket and avoid happy feet.


Running Backs

East Carolina: The running back position is not the strongest part of the Pirates’ air raid offense. In fact, most of their running plays come from passes in the flats due to the offensive line’s inability to open holes.  Add to that the fact that a freshman, Anthony Scott, is the only back in line for serious touches and that adds more doubt for Pirate fans at this position.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks have an incredible stable of running backs – one that might get deeper with head coach Steve Spurrier saying redshirt freshman David Williams could be getting some touches this week.  A key factor here will be Mike Davis’ health.  If Davis’ bruised ribs are alright and he’s ready to go, he’ll lead a running game that obviously needs to see a lot more touches than it saw last week. Either way though, this position is stacked in the Gamecocks favor.


Wide Receivers

East Carolina: This position is a little thin for the Pirates however they have a stud in senior Justin Hardy who will look to test this young Gamecock secondary. Look for Carden to exploit this matchup with his favorite target early and often.

South Carolina: We’re still looking to see an impact from Shaq Roland and Damiere Byrd – despite the latter’s touchdown last week.  Forty throws from Thompson and only two combined catches for these two go-to receivers is not a good sign.  So far Thompson has only shown chemistry with Nick Jones, Pharoh Cooper and his tight ends – and while South Carolina most likely won’t throw forty times against the Pirates, they will need Roland and Byrd to get receptions if they want to spread the field against the East Carolina defense.


Tight End

East Carolina:  The Pirates’ tight end position won’t cause too much trouble for the Gamecocks. After declaring former tight end Justin Jones ineligible for his senior season and allowing him to leave early for the NFL, the Pirates will look to replace his production with multiple freshman.

South Carolina: The most glaring  mismatch on the field, South Carolina has two studs in Jerell Adams and Rory Anderson – both of whom seem to have gelled well with Thompson. Thompson used both as safe dump offs last week and will surely look to carve up the Pirates the same way.


Offensive Line

East Carolina: A position that should easily favor the Gamecocks, the Pirates will be looking to replace more than a few starters from last season. If there was ever a game for the Gamecocks to figure out the new 3-4 defense, this would be it.

South Carolina: A big edge to the Gamecocks if they play the way they are expected to – despite adding two new starters in Will Sport and Allen Knott.  A lack of pass protection and poor run blocking hurt the Gamecocks last week, and against a tough defensive line that has multiple 300-pound players, this heralded front five will need to play up to its potential or it will be another long game.


Defensive Line

East Carolina: Returning a ton of depth with players that actually fit the mold of a 3-4 system, East Carolina is set in this position and should be able to deal with a Gamecock offensive line – especially if that line plays like it did last Thursday.  Put another way, the Gamecocks will struggle to keep Dylan Thompson untouched this game.

South Carolina: We’ve seen what the new USC defensive line looks like without Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton and it’s not pretty.  A lack of pass rush with players not fitting the 3-4 alignment really hurt the Gamecocks against Texas A&M – allowing Kenny Hill to pick apart the secondary.  Absent dramatic improvement, Carden will do the same.



East Carolina: Replacing three of their starters at linebacker, the Pirates will be outmatched in this aspect of the game. Expect Spurrier to target them early and often throughout the game.

South Carolina: The position that was considered a strong point for the Gamecocks heading into this year looked terrible last week.  The heart and soul of Lorenzo Ward‘s defense didn’t have a pulse against Texas A&M – but  Poor fundamental tackling will most likely not be an issue in the long-term and the Gamecocks should bounce back this week.



East Carolina: A lot of starters to replace here as well for the Pirates with three starters missing here as well. East Carolina survives though on getting pressure from their front seven and will continue to rely heavily on their presence upfront.

South Carolina: A terrible start to the season for the Gamecocks who might struggle just as much this week against a very good quarterback in Carden who is arguably the best passer South Carolina will face this year. If the team can’t find a way to step up and be more consistent, Carden will make them pay.


South Carolina should win this game, however if the team fans saw last Thursday night shows up to play, they’ll be hitting the exits early again. Carden will be tough to stop but the Gamecocks should be able to score more efficiently this week and will get back on track


Pic: Travis Bell Photography

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Squishy123 September 5, 2014 at 8:07 pm

ECU’s defense must really suck if USC’s entire secondary has the edge over ECU’s.

carls jr September 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm

What really must suck is being a Tater and having the Gamecocks consume your every thought. Go check Dabo’s countdown clock…number 6 is coming soon enough.

Squishy123 September 6, 2014 at 9:00 am

You sound awful concerned about my personal welfare. Thank you.

Woody Old Ball Coach Hayes September 6, 2014 at 9:33 am

What a shame a program has fallen so low a big game is East Carolina.

Squishy123 September 6, 2014 at 10:46 am

I guess it is a big game when this game could ruin the season. Lose this game and they can start practicing for 2015 and start looking for a coach because Slurrier will spend most of the off-season on the golf course. Same with Tater U., they lose to SCSU today their season is over.

yep September 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

You’re right, big games vs SC State, Georgia State, and Wake Forest (which will make up half of Clemson’s wins this year) really show that Clemson has their program ready for the big time, after you take away UGA, FSU, GT, Louisville, and UNC and USC. All of which will be losses for that over rated front of Clem5on.

Fred September 6, 2014 at 12:06 am

I hope your prediction this week is better than your POS prediction last week!

Yadda September 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm

Be Nice and not so mean spirited.

E Norma Scok September 6, 2014 at 12:32 am

Did anyone need to read any of the article to determine who the author would predict as a winner?

John Hughes September 6, 2014 at 4:10 pm

If you’ve read or listened to any of Reece’s works, including his radio show, you’d know he’s very unbiased. A good bit of his radio show is on Clemson

E Norma Scok September 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

I haven’t. Never heard of him. But was it really that necessary to go into such analysis over ECU?

SC Political Digest September 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

He was almost right on the number. While you told us Obama would have unemployment under Bush’s number of 4.5%. And you told us gas would be lower and healthcare would cost less, and be better under Obama…

For you to criticize Reece, makes you look stupid. But of course, you voted for Obama, and swear he’s doing a good job. So no one is surprised.

E Norma Scok September 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

I told you what?? Please….PLEASE show where I ever told you anything other than how much of doosh you and your blog is. And how the fuck would you know who I voted for? Were you standing on my shoulder? Go back to your little blog and write to yourself. Nobody cares about your opinion. Seriously. NO-BODY.

SomalianRoadCorp September 7, 2014 at 12:44 am

Hey, actually a good prediction.


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