1. Minimize the damage Cole Stoudt will do. For instance, don't let him throw two pick 6's. After his first one, put Schuessler in. Getting sacked for 20 yards is better than throwing 80 yard interceptions. South Carolina's biggest weakness is pass defense. They don't get to the quarterback often and force mistakes. Well Saturday, they won't need to. Even with plenty of time Cole Stoudt will panic and throw a pick. He makes Tajh Boyd's "deer in the headlights" look like a professional poker player.
2. Run the ball a lot. It's the strength of our offensive line. That's not to say it's a strength, it's just THE strength if I had to pick one. They suck at run blocking but they are absolutely atrocious in pass protection. A steady dose of Dye and Gallman. Two backs can handle the load. Don't need Howard. Don't let Davidson touch the ball. He will fumble it deep in their territory. Keep the ball away from SC and end this game fast. The more they have the ball, the more they score. We won't score very much. This is the key to keeping it close.
3. Along those lines are turnovers. Don't commit them. Easier said than done I know. This means high % throws for Cole Stoudt and screen passes. We run 30 screen passes per game to Hopper and Scott. Don't stop now. That's the safest pass for Cole. Anything downfield is a pick or a almost pick. Also keep the ball away from C.J. Davidson. Give Humph a stern talking to before the game on his punt returns. NO TURNOVERS! We can get blown out on our own. We don't need to give them any help in this department.
4. We need big plays. South Carolina is susceptible to those. We don't do them very often. The hope is that one of Cole's screen passes to Scott or a run from one of our two backs breaks into a big play. Just keep hammering away at that crappy defense and maybe we get a couple. Probably not though. We couldn't score on Georgia Tech or Georgia State in the 2nd half, so not much hope that we can do it against the Coots.
5. Get off the field. They converted on third down a lot last year. This year we have the best third down defense around. We need to stay fresh because Cole will put our defense in bad positions and will keep them on the field a lot. Rotate a lot of linebackers and defensive linemen. We have the depth. The defense has played well all year EXCEPT for when the offense puts them in horrible positions or just flat wears them out from being on the field all game long. Keep the defense as fresh as possible because they are our best chance at keeping this close. They get wore out and SC scores 40 on us. This is particularly true in the red zone where they are lethal. Keep them out of the red zone and play above your heads when they are in it.
6. Put Mackensie Alexander on Pharoh Cooper. Closest thing to a lock-down corner we have and Cooper is their main scoring threat in the passing game. This sounds obvious but I wouldn't put anything past this coaching staff. Although Venables seems to know what he's doing.
7. Give Ammon Lakip a Xanax before the game. He's been pretty good lately. Points will be at a premium and he is (sadly) our best scoring threat on the team. If we can get him within 35 yards, just go ahead and kick a field goal. No sense in doing anything stupid like throwing towards the end zone and trying to score a touchdown (pick 6!!!). Just kick the field goal and hope for a defensive turnover and touchdown. If you absolutely MUST try and score, just run the dang ball and hope we break one.
8. The only touchdowns we will get in this game are defensive and special teams. Adam Humphries on punt returns. Tell him if he fumbles or turns it over we will pull his scholarship. Bench T.J. Green on kick returns because he sucks. Put all our fastest guys out there who won't run straight into a pile of defenders. We need to break at least one of these to have a chance.
9. Along those same lines, we need to shut down Mike Davis and the running game of SC. We shut him down last year and he hasn't looked great at times this year. It's very doable with this years defense. Force Dylan to throw. Keep Alexander on Cooper and sack this crap out of Thompson. Rattle him. He's thrown 11 picks this year already and we have some ball hawks. If we don't commit turnovers and force them to, we will have the ball more often than them. Which is key to keeping them from blowing us the heck out. We may even get a score out of it. Which are the only kind of touchdowns we will get.
That's all I got folks. If we do these 9 things to perfection, who knows? Maybe we win a close game. Maybe we just keep it close and respectable. Of course this is all contingent upon the fact that Deshaun Watson does not play and Cole starts. If Watson plays, I have one key to the game. Let Watson do his thing. Let's just hope for the best because things aren't looking good for stopping six in a row right now. This is the first game I'll be attending this year and I'll be cheering hard win or lose though. This team is going to need the crowd more than ever before.