Gameday prep: Storylines to watch against Texas A&M

It’s getting closer and closer to kickoff between South Carolina and Texas A&M. Here are some storylines to watch closely as the Gamecocks try to go into College Station and upset the Aggies.

Can the Gamecocks control the clock?

How do you stop a high-powered offense? Control the clock and keep the offense off the field. This means a heavy workload for running backs such as Brandon Wilds, David Williams and Shon Carson. A&M is allowing a shade over 200 yards per game on the ground this season and was slashed through the past two weeks against Alabama and Ole Miss. If the Gamecocks can ground-and-pound for 4 yards and waste 40 seconds, then it could keep the speed of A&M off the field, score points, it could mean success for the Gamecocks.

Will the defense respond after last year’s blowout?

Last year’s 52-28 blowout at the hands of the Aggies was the beginning of the Gamecocks’ two-year slide and the game to maybe spark the Steve Spurrier retirement talk. This year, the defense slapped the statistics on the board in the meeting room and went over what went wrong. Linebacker T.J. Holloman said the team is more prepared to face this Aggie team this year. The team is returning starters from last year’s game who now have significant playing time under their belts that could be an impact Saturday.

Perry Orth and his quest to stay upright.

Orth has played some pretty good defenses this year (Georgia, LSU and Missouri most notably). He’s had a problem staying up this year and has been sacked in every game he’s started, plus one sack in relief against Missouri. He’s playing another stout defensive line this week and if he wants to be successful, he’ll need to stand in the pocket, stay upright and play mistake free.

Can the team utilize the confidence that’s been building the past two weeks?

Brandon Wilds oozed confidence at the weekly Tuesday press conference. He said this is the closest he’s been to 100 percent and he wants a big crowd at Kyle Field so he can show them want he can do. The team needs to bottle that. After an SEC win, a successful bye week and now a big-time showdown in College Station. If the team can act like Wilds and go out there to “show them what they got,” then the Gamecocks may just walk out Saturday with a win.

Will the team score a red-zone touchdown?

Last week was a microcosm of the entire season, as the Gamecocks were in the red-zone four times but only came away with three field goals. This season the Gamecocks have been inside the 20-yard line 21 times and have come away with only six touchdowns. The team is 17-for-21 with 11 field goals. They’ll have to do better this week if they want to put pressure on the Aggies to score. Points cannot be left on the board.