Thomas Floyd from Garnet and Black Attack, SB Nation’s South Carolina Gamecocks site, was kind enough to take time and answer some questions in advance of their upcoming game with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The game will be at 2:30 CT on SECN.
Tanner Spearman: With Deebo Samuel reportedly out for the season, who should we expect to step up in his place?
Thomas Floyd: There isn’t anyone on this team who can fully replace the scoring ability of Deebo Samuel. He’s not a player that just comes around. However, we do have a plethora of WR and TE depth that will have to try and replace the production of Deebo Samuel. The guys who will be doing that will be OrTre Smith, Chad Terrell, KC Crosby, and Kiel Pollard. For South Carolina to be successful, all of those players have to step in to a bigger role.
Tanner: Who are the biggest threats on both sides of the ball?
Thomas: I would have to say Jake Bentley on offense and Skai Moore on defense. Jake Bentley hasn’t exactly had a great game to the standards fans hold him to this season, but I do think he is a very good QB. Bentley’s stats for Kentucky were deceiving, he missed a lot of crucial throws. He’s still making young guy mistakes; however, I think he will continue to have a good season for us. Skai Moore is just that guy on defense. He has 12 career interceptions, and is only two from tying the school record and three from breaking it. Oh, and he has lead the team in tackles every year so far.
Tanner: In 2016, South Carolina struggled to put away supposedly lesser out of conference teams such as UMass and ECU. Is there reason to believe things will be different in that department this year? How does 2017 South Carolina compare to 2016?
Thomas: I do think it will be somewhat different than the last two years. It won’t be like the height of the Spurrier era when we were blowing out lesser opponents, but it will be improved. ECU was a game when Brandon McIlwain was still the starting QB, so I just like to not count those games. As for UMass, it was Jake Bentley’s first start and our defense was extremely bad. Jake did have the Gamecocks up 34-13, but the Gamecock offense failed to score any points in the 4th quarter. This, along with an atrocious defense in every statistical category except turnover margin, didn’t help the young QB last year. I think South Carolina is a helluva lot better coached and prepared than last year, and team experience is a lot better than the last. With this being said, I think they will do a better job, but that’s still to be determined.
Tanner: What does Louisiana Tech have to do in order to spring the upset?
Thomas: South Carolina’s offensive and defensive line struggled tremendously against Kentucky. This being said, if LA Tech can control the line of scrimmage and thread the needle against the Gamecocks, they’re going to give USC all they can handle.
Tanner: How do Gamecock fans feel about Will Muschamp?
Thomas: It’s hard to say. I personally didn’t know what to think when he was hired, except he sort of flopped at Florida. I attribute this to the lack of a good QB, others attribute it to Kurt Roper. Roper is currently the play caller for Carolina, and after the game against Kentucky everyone was calling for his head. I personally know that anybody coaching D1 or NFL football knows a lot more than a fan or any blogger. So, until Muschamp puts a couple of 4-8 seasons together, I’ll be all for him. As for others, a losing season this year and next may result in that.
Tanner: La Tech head coach Skip Holtz was on the South Carolina staff from 1999-2004 under his father Lou. Do most Gamecock fans remember him? If so, what opinion do they have of him?
Thomas: I was actually born in 1999, so I don’t remember Lou Holtz at all. I know him for hosting college football shows, but I knew he coached at USC at one point. I think a lot of people liked Holtz, mainly because he beat Ohio St. in back to back bowl games. South Carolina hadn’t had a lot of success in post season play up until this point, so I know Gamecock fans love him for that.
Tanner: Who’s the real USC?
The University of South Carolina was established in 1801, the University of Southern California was established in 1880. Since 2000, South Carolina has won 3 National Championships in the three major sports of baseball, football, and men’s and women’s basketball. Southern Cal. has zero, considering they were stripped of the championship because of cheating. And if you want to the go with the who’s the real Carolina thing for football, South Carolina is undefeated since 2000 against teams from NC.
Tanner: What is your prediction for the game, either a score prediction or a pick against the spread (currently SC -8.5)?
Thomas: Eh, I think the Gamecocks will bounce back. This isn’t to say that LA Tech is a cupcake whatsoever, I think LA Tech has a pretty good team. I’m never going to pick South Carolina to lose. I’m thinking in the range of 31-20 Gamecocks. I want to pick against the spread and say 24-17, but I think Carolina can handle themselves well enough to win this game comfortably. However, don’t be surprised if this comes down to the 4th quarter.