Key players to watch vs The Citadel

The Gamecocks are gearing up for another high-noon shootout, this time against The Citadel in hopes of getting to four wins on the season.

The Citadel comes in averaging 343 rushing yards per game. That's good and bad news for the Gamecocks.

The good news is the Gamecocks won’t have to worry about giving Citadel quarterback Dominique Allen a career day passing.

Bad news, the Gamecocks rank near the bottom in the country in rushing defense, so Allen could have a career day rushing.

Defensively, the Bulldogs are pretty stout, only allowing roughly 21 points per game and 341 yards per game.

While the Bulldogs are coming out of the FCS, they still pose matchup problems for the Gamecocks. It’ll be up to these players to make an impact if the Gamecocks want to control the game.

Brandon Wilds

How do you keep a potent offense out of the end zone? Keep them off the field. That starts with Brandon Wilds and the running game. Last week, Wilds amassed a, um, less-than-ideal rushing total, running for 12 yards. That showed in the time of possession as the Gators had almost double the time with the ball. Brandon Wilds will have to be back to his usual self, grinding out 4 yards to take 40 seconds off the clock, if the Gamecocks want to limit the Bulldogs.

Boosie Whitlow and Marquavius Lewis

The triple-option offense is predicated on the runner’s ability to get to the edge and turn the corner. If the two defensive ends can force whoever the ball carrier is to cut it up field sooner than he wants, then the linebackers will be there to limit the gain. That starts with Whitlow and Lewis, who will be tasked to seal the corners. The line has had trouble shedding blocks all year and it’ll be important to do that this week (you can’t really tackle someone with a 300-pound offensive lineman in the way).

Elliott Fry

I know the go-to on special teams is Sean Kelly, but Fry could hold the key to this week’s game. He’s only been perfect in a game twice this season, and has never been perfect in games when he’s kicked more than three field goals. The Gamecocks have struggled to score points this season (they’re averaging 20.9 points per game) and will need to score points to win this week. This means Fry will need to nail his field goals to make sure the Gamecocks don’t leave any points on the board.

Shawn Elliott

Not a player, no but equally important. The head coach is always important, but Elliott is a key factor this week. The Gamecocks are out of a bowl game realistically and are coming in for a noon game against an FCS team. Sometimes in college football you see teams without a bowl to compete for phone the last few games in. That’s where Elliott fits in. He’s a natural motivator, so he’ll need to make sure he makes sure his team is ready to play.