Three keys to a South Carolina win vs. North Carolina

Three keys to a South Carolina win vs. North Carolina
FILE - In this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, file photo, South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp watches an extra point attempt during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Chattanooga in Columbia, S.C. The Gamecocks conclude the regular season on Saturday and try to enhance their bowl position against Akron after a September cancellation due to Hurricane Florence. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File) (Source: Sean Rayford)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WIS) - It’s the first game of the season and the Gamecocks and Tar Heels are hoping to start the season 1-0.

For South Carolina, there are several questions they’ll try to answer in Saturday’s game against North Carolina. However, there are three big keys the Gamecocks will have to check off if they hope to come away with a victory.

BALL SECURITY

Make no mistake about it. Taking care of the pigskin will be a high priority for the Gamecocks.

Since Will Muschamp’s arrival, coaches have preached the importance of winning the turnover battle. However, the Gamecocks finished last year tied for 100th in the country with a turnover margin of -5. More in depth, ball security at the quarterback position will be paramount. Jake Bentley threw14 picks last year, which was tied for ninth-most in the country.

If the Gamecocks are going to have success against the Tar Heels, they’ll have to find ways to hold on to the ball and keep UNC’s offense off the field.

RUN THE FOOTBALL

We may not know who’s going to start at running back for the Gamecocks, but we do know it’ll be very important to their success to be able to run the ball effectively.

When the Gamecocks have rushed for 100 yards or more during the Muschamp era, they are 20-4. Last year, South Carolina went 7-2 when they rushed for 100 yards and 5-0 when they reached the 150-yard plateau. It’ll be up to the offensive line to open holes for Rico Dowdle, Tavien Feaster, and company to make that happen.

NEW GAME, NEW SEASON

It can be an easy thing to look at today’s game and think about your last visit here if you’re South Carolina.

A dismal 28-0 loss to Virginia punctuated a season initially filled with promise and potential. For the Gamecocks, the focus should be on this game and coming away with their first win of the year rather than righting a wrong from last season. To do that, it’ll take the team’s ability to play fast, play physically, and play together.

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