South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and his defensive staff have had to do some digging this week.
After they heard that LSU will likely start a true freshman – Max Johnson or TJ Finley – in place of an injured Myles Brennan on Saturday night against Gamecocks, he wanted to watch game film of the newbies.
Except neither has taken one collegiate game snap yet.
“We’ve watched all of their high school tape,” Muschamp said of Johnson and Finley, who played last season for Watkinsville (Ga.) Oconee County High and Ponchatoula (La.) High respectively. I don’t think from a skill standpoint there’s a lot of difference between any of the three quarterbacks. Obviously, Miles has experience and the two young QBs are really good players.”
Despite the Tigers not having Brennan available, LSU enters Saturday’s game as a 6-point favorite according to sportsbettingdime.com.
Muschamp, who was LSU’s defensive coordinator under Nick Saban when the Tigers won the 2003 national championship, believes LSU’s offense system won’t change much with a freshman QB running the show.
“I don’t know schematically there will be a whole lot of changes, they’ve been successful with what they’ve been doing and that’s what we plan on seeing,” Muschamp said. “(LSU offensive coordinator) Steve Ensminger and (passing game coordinator Scott Linehan have coached quarterbacks for a long time. They know how to get a young guy ready and play to his strengths and do things he’s comfortable with.
The big thing to me is the guys you’ve got around him (a freshman quarterback). Got a guy like (wide receiver) Terrace Marshall, you got a guy like (tight end Arik) Gilbert, you got a good offensive front and some really good backs, so there’s not as much concern about young guys going in a situation. The guys around them have to raise their levels.”
Game 4 South Carolina (2-2 overall, 2-2 SEC East) at LSU (1-2, 1-2 SEC West), 7 p.m. ESPN
Last week for South Carolina: The Gamecocks erased a 9-0 Auburn lead and outscored the Tigers 16-6 in the second half for 30-22 victory. South Carolina scored 14 points off three interceptions thrown by Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Running back Kevin Harris ran for 83 yards and two TDs, QB Collin Hill threw for 144 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception and cornerback Jaycee Horn (son of former Saints receiver Joe Horn) had two interceptions.
Last time LSU played South Carolina: In a 2015 game that was moved from Columbia, S.C. to Baton Rouge, LSU dominated in a 45-24 win. It was also the last of 319 college games coached in 26 seasons by SEC legend Steve Spurrier, who resigned two days later.
Series record: LSU leads 18-2-1
South Carolina coach: Will Muschamp (56-48 overall in 9 seasons, 28-27 at South Carolina in 5 seasons)
THIS AND THAT:
Early betting line: LSU by 6
Number of Louisiana natives on South Carolina roster: 1
Number of South Carolina natives on LSU roster: 0
South Carolina-LSU program connections: Current South Carolina coach Will Muschamp was on then-LSU head coach Nick Saban’s staff for four seasons through 2004. He served the last three years as defensive coordinator. . .Paul Dietzel, who coached LSU to the 1958 national championship, coached South Carolina to the 1969 Atlantic Coast Conference championship. It’s the only conference football champion South Carolina has ever won.
Reason to dislike South Carolina: They gave us Hootie and the Blowfish.
Reason to like South Carolina: They have the worst series record against LSU of any SEC opponent,
SOUTH CAROLINA PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Collin Hill (84-of-134 for 842 yards, 4 TDs, 1 interception), WR Shi Smith (34 catches for 347 yards, 3 TDs), RB Kevin Harris (409 yards, 6 TDs), OG Sadarius Dickerson
MLB Ernest Jones (36 tackles, 3½ for loss), LB Kingsley Enagbare (15 tackles, 4½ tackles for loss including 4 sacks), S Jammie Robinson (25 tackles), CB Jaycee Horn (10 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups)
PK Parker White (6 of 7 FG, 14 of 14 extra points), P Kai Kroeger (42.2 avg.), PR Jammie Robinson (4 for 33 yards), KOR Shi Smith (3 for 47 yards)
1. Who is South Carolina’s only Heisman Trophy winner, a running back in 1980 who also played four years for the New Orleans Saints?
A. Roy Rogers
B. George Rogers
C. Will Rogers
D. Fred Rogers
2. South Carolina’s nickname is the Gamecocks. What is the name of their costumed mascot who is always at midfield when the team runs out the dressing room just before kickoff?
A. Foghorn Leghorn
D. Rooster Cogburn
3. What song does the South Carolina play as the team runs on the field prior to kickoff?
A. 2001: A Space Odyssey Theme/Sprach Zarathustra
B. The theme to Green Acres
C. Dixie Chicken
D. Little Chickie Wah Wah
4. What was the significance of LSU’s 30-13 win over South Carolina in the 1987 Gator Bowl?
A. LSU would not win another bowl game for the next seven seasons
B. It gave a one-loss, one-tie LSU team its first 10-win since 1961
C. Greg Jackson intercepted two passes, the last LSU player to do so in a bowl game
D. It was Mike Archer’s only bowl win as LSU’s head coach
ANSWERS: 1. B 2. C 3. A 4. A, B, C, D