Yesterday, we talked about reasons to worry. Today we take a more optimistic look at the game and talk about reasons to relax.
It's Mississippi State
At the end of any analysis, they're still Mississippi State, and we're still South Carolina. Are they capable of winning, of course, but it would be an upset. South Carolina is the more talented team and the better team overall. If both teams play well or both play poorly, the Gamecocks win.
I wasn't listening closely to the announcers last Saturday night, but I cannot recall either of them commenting on how gassed the Carolina defense was when they were stuffing Missouri in the fourth quarter. The perception of the defense as being out of shape and not living up to preseason expectations is over. And they are performing at a higher level as well. They held Arkansas to virtually nothing; they may Tennessee punt 8 times, and they kept an explosive Missouri offense in check all night, especially when it counted. There's no reason to think they won't play well against Miss State on Saturday.
The Offense is Back on Track
Probably. The offense scored on its last 5 possessions against Missouri. When they didn't score much of the problem was they couldn't get out of their own way. We've seen this offense move the ball very well on multiple occassions on for sustained periods. There's no resaon to think that won't be the case on Saturday.
The game is at home. Connor Shaw hasn't lost a start at home, and the team has the second longest winning streak in school history and the second longest active streak in the nation. The reason for those streaks is that the team has been good. Another reason is that they play well at home. Expect that to happen again on Saturday.
Pieces of the puzzle
The jubiliation of the Missouri game is spawning unbridled optimism throughout the fanbase, but it's not completely without reason. The defense is playing well; the offense can be explosive, and the special teams have (for now) stopped killing the rest of the team. The Missouri win could be a high point in an otherwise blah season, or it could be the spring board to bigger and better things. The pieces are certainly in place.
After what you saw Saturday night, would you bet against this guy?