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An early look at the Ole Miss vs. South Carolina matchup

An early look at the Ole Miss vs. South Carolina matchup

South Carolina lost in a big way to A&M last Saturday. Here’s what we can take away from that game ahead of the Gamecocks’ trip to Vaught-Hemingway this weekend. 

OXFORD, Miss. — South Carolina, the Rebels’ upcoming opponent, was simply routed by Texas A&M Saturday. Here’s what we can take away from that game before Ole Miss and the Gamecocks kick off Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. (CT) contest. 

What we learned from A&M vs. South Carolina:

South Carolina’s defense has a problem getting the opposing offense off the field. In the first half Saturday, the Aggies kept the ball for 21:21. That means in the first half, the Gamecocks had the ball for less than a quarter. It is tough for a defense to stay fresh when it is never on the bench having some Gatorade.

On the other hand, South Carolina had a problem staying on the field when it did have the ball. That did not help the Gamecocks’ defense, but what hurts more is it is difficult for an offense to execute a game plan when it hardly ever sees the field.

What to look out for:

Texas A&M has a very good front seven. The Aggies were able to keep Carolina in second- and third-and-longs all night. The Gamecocks will try to use Kevin Harris on first down to give the offense manageable conversion opportunities. South Carolina wants to control the clock to negate the lightning-quick Ole Miss offense.

What can be exploited?

The answer is the Carolina secondary. Texas A&M had wide receivers running free through the Gamecocks’ defensive backfield all night. And believe this, the Aggies’ receivers in no way resemble the talents of Elijah Moore, Dontario Drummond, Jonathan Mingo and Braylon Sanders, et al.

Add to that, the South Carolina linebackers will have fits trying to cover Ealy and Snoop Conner out of the backfield.

Which Rebels could have a big day?

Kenny Yeboah: Texas A&M’s Jalen Wydemyer still has not been covered by the Gamecocks. He only had three catches for 35 yards last Saturday, but he is nowhere near as athletic as Yeboah. The Ole Miss tight end could have a big day. 

Matt Corral/John-Rhys Plumlee: The Rebels’ quarterback tandem could use their legs to the advantage of the Ole Miss offense. Saturday, Kellen Mond averaged 5.7 yards per carry and again, he does not have the athletic ability of Corral or Plumlee. Not only will that open up the passing game, but it will limit the defenders to stop Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Conner.

Which Gamecock to watch:

Shi Smith: The Landsharks had better keep track of number 13. Imagine the receiving skills of Moore, the speed of Plumlee and the elusiveness of Ealy in one explosive package. Not only is he dangerous in the offensive scheme, but he must also be neutralized in the return game.

Trends:

South Carolina has only won once away from Columbia this season and that was at Vanderbilt. The Rebels have yet to win at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in 2020, but those loses came against Florida, Alabama and Auburn. 

Ole Miss is coming off a win, while the Gamecocks have dropped back-to-back games to A&M and LSU. South Carolina is 1-2 against the SEC West (a win against Auburn) and the Rebels are 2-1 against the East with wins at Vandy and Kentucky.

What we can look for:

Strength vs. strength: South Carolina never wants to see the clock stop while it has possession of the ball. Ole Miss wants to see the clock stop only when a Rebel crosses the goal line. If the Gamecocks can keep the ball away from Ole Miss, they stand a much better chance to win the game. 

If the Landsharks can keep Carolina in check, give the ball back to the offense so Corral and Company can produce big plays, Ole Miss will have its first home win of the season. 

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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