2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Navy at South Carolina
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Sept. 17 at South Carolina 24 … Navy 21
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Marcus Lattimore ran for a career-high 246 yards and three touchdowns to help No. 10 South Carolina hang on for a 24-21 victory over Navy on Saturday night.
Lattimore carried 37 times and averaged 6.6 yards a carry. The Gamecocks (3-0) ran 37 plays in the second half, and the sophomore touched the ball on 26 of them.
The Midshipmen (2-1) ran their option efficiently, rushing for 274 yards split among seven players.
After Lattimore was stopped for a loss for the first time in the game on a fourth down, Navy got the ball at its 6-yard line with 5:34 left. But Antonio Allen picked off a fourth down pass with a minute to go to seal the Gamecocks win.
South Carolina was 1-2 as a Top 10 team under coach Steve Spurrier and had a bad history against Navy. The Midshipmen beat a No. 2 South Carolina team in 1984 -- Navy's last win over a Top 10 team.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia again appeared to have an off night, overthrowing several receivers and making a bad decision by throwing the ball as he got hit that led to an interception on South Carolina's first possession of the third quarter.
Spurrier then turned the game over to his star running back. Lattimore touched the ball on 41 of his team's 69 plays. He also caught four passes for 25 yards.
With the Gamecocks trailing 21-17 late in the third quarter, Spurrier kept giving the ball to Lattimore. He never ran the ball more than 10 yards and touched it 11 times on a 15-yard drive that ended with his 7-yard run that put South Carolina ahead 24-21.
Navy had two more possessions, but couldn't get the offense going. Freshman defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney kept breaking into the backfield to hurry passes and cut off some of quarterback Kriss Proctor's options.
Fullback Alex Teich led the Midshipmen with 93 yards rushing and a touchdown. Proctor added 68 yards, as Navy ran for 274 yards against a defense that was allowing just 137 yards a game coming in.
Garcia was 18 of 25 for 204 yards, mostly on short passes. Star receiver Alshon Jeffery didn't start because he broke a team rule and finished with two catches for 35 yards.
The difference in the game may have come at the end of the second quarter. Navy stopped Garcia on a keeper, forcing a fourth-and-7 from the Navy 49. The Midshipmen didn't call a timeout, and the Gamecocks let the play clock run down before calling their own timeout with 24 seconds to go.
Garcia then completed a 12-yard pass to Justice Cunningham and a 5-yard pass to Lattimore, leaving enough time for Jay Wooten to kick a 48-yard field goal to end the half.
Navy (2-0) at South Carolina (2-0) Sept. 17, 6:00, ESPN2/ESPN3
Here's The Deal … Two of the nation's best and most exciting running games square off in what would normally be a nice mid-level bowl matchup if South Carolina wasn't looking the part of a national title contender.
The Gamecocks need a little while to warm up, and then comes the fun, exploding for 56 points over the final three quarters against East Carolina and 45 over the final three against Georgia in two wild wins. This is an ultra-talented team that hasn't reached its potential yet, with a wildly inefficient passing game and not nearly enough big plays from the defensive front – one Jadeveon Clowney speed rush on Georgia's Aaron Murray aside – but the points are flowing. With a breathtaking collection of athletes and NFL talent at several key spots, South Carolina has a very, very dangerous team that should go on a nice run of wins with four straight home games before going to Mississippi State.
Navy is supposed to be in the midst of a rebuilding year, but instead its running game is exploding as well as ever, averaging a whopping 400.5 yards per game – almost 50 yards more per game than the No. 2 team, Army. After ripping up a strong FCS team in Delaware to start the season, Navy destroyed Western Kentucky with 510 yards of total offense in the 40-14 blowout. While the program has come up with some nice moments over the last few years against some big names, pulling off the upset would be the most impressive of the lot, including the victories over Notre Dame. The offense is just efficient and effective enough to pull it off.
Why Navy Might Win: As crazy as this might sound for the nation's No. 4 team in scoring offense, the South Carolina attack isn't exactly clicking. Marcus Lattimore and the ground attack have been excellent, but QB Stephen Garcia is coming off a weird game against Georgia, completing just 11-of-25 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and two picks. For the season, USC quarterbacks have completed just 21-of-51 throws against two questionable secondaries, and while Navy doesn't have a top-shelf group of athletes to keep up with Alshon Jeffery and the Gamecock receivers, there's a chance the passing game simply isn't working yet.
On the other side of the ball, South Carolina isn't getting in the backfield enough and is spending too much time letting the ground games come to the front seven. To have any chance against Navy, a defensive front has to attack and it might not be able to do that well enough to stop the Midshipmen cold. Coming off the Georgia game, and with SEC play continuing against Vandy next week, there's a chance the Gamecocks might not be fully focused, and against Navy, it takes a 100% mental effort.
Why South Carolina Might Win: Navy doesn't have the firepower to keep up. As good as the Midshipman ground game has been, and as great as it's been putting up 40 points in each of the first two games, that's not good enough. While Navy was putting up 40 on Delaware and WKU, South Carolina was putting up 56 on East Carolina and 45 against Georgia. The Midshipmen don't have a pass rush to pressure Garcia, and they won't be able to take advantage of the porous USC offensive line enough to throw off the timing of the attack.
The Gamecocks have way too many athletes for Navy's offense. While the attack is precise enough and effective enough to work against everyone, it's not built to handle teams with ultra-fast, ultra-athletic defensive fronts.
No one has a faster, more athletic line than South Carolina.
As long as the USC ends can get to the outside in a hurry and funnel everything in, the smart, veteran linebackers will take care of the rest. There's no threat of any sort of a Navy passing game – even by Navy's standards - and the Gamecock corners won't have any problem staying on an island with the Midshipmen receivers.
What To Watch Out For: For Navy's offense to work against a team as athletic and as fast as South Carolina, fullback Alexander Teich has to be established up the middle right away. He's always going to get around 15 carries per game, but they have to be effective and he has to provide enough of a push to keep the Gamecock defenders funneled inside, so QB Kriss Proctor and the speedy backs can fly outside. Teich ran for 210 yards in last year's win over Notre Dame, and he tore up WKU for 102 yards last week, but now he'll be the main focus of the USC defensive front early on.
South Carolina's second-leading rusher is … Melvin Ingram. The big defensive lineman took a fake punt 68 yards for a touchdown last week, and that was enough to make him the team's No. 2 man on the ground behind Lattimore. The senior also came up with the scoop and score after Clowney's play on Murray, and he came up with an interception against East Carolina. However, he only has three tackles so far at his day job and he needs to start getting into the backfield. In a game like this, his athleticism will be a huge plus against to get down the line in a hurry against the option.
What Will Happen: In 1920, South Carolina made the trip to Navy and came away with a 63-0 beatdown. It's payback time … after a slow start. It's also braincramp time for the Gamecocks, who'll wear down the mediocre Navy defense and will come up with a few big home runs to put the game away, but it'll take way too much effort. Navy will hold on to the ball for over 35 minutes and will run for over 200 yards, but it won't be enough to overcome Jeffery, who'll have a breakout game with at least seven catches for over 150 yards.
CFN Prediction: South Carolina 41 … Navy 27
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South Carolina -17 O/U: 58
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