THIS WEEK'S GAME: East Carolina at South Carolina, Sept. 8 -- The Gamecocks managed to sneak out of Nashville with a four-point come-from-behind victory over Vanderbilt despite not playing particularly well. Last season. South Carolina fell behind East Carolina by 17 points before rallying to claim a 56-37 victory. The Gamecocks hope to improve to 2-0 for the third consecutive season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
South Carolina raced to a 10-point lead against Vanderbilt, but then allowed the Commodores to score 13 straight points. Against East Carolina last season, in a game played in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, the Pirates jumped to a 17-point advance before South Carolina got it together. Whether QB Connor Shaw plays or not, the Gamecocks must establish its running game, while improving on its passing attack. Defensively, South Carolina needs to apply more pressure, as the Pirates have a prolific passing attack which could cause problems.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR Ace Sanders -- After being touted as the team's leading returning receiver, Sanders was a non-factor in Saturday's victory over Vanderbilt, as he caught only two passes for 13 yards. He must put up some big numbers if the Gamecock offense is to reach its potential.
OL Brandon Shell -- The redshirt freshman left tackle was impressive on run blocking, but struggled when it came to pass blocking. Suffering from a sprained ankle and fatigue, he was lifted from the Vanderbilt game in the fourth quarter.
LB Shaq Wilson -- The senior was disappointed with his personal results from the 2011 season, but displayed the form that led former defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson to call him the smartest defensive player he ever coach. He not only led the team in tackles with eight against Vanderbilt, but returned a first quarter interception 37 yards, a play that set-up South Carolina's first touchdown.
--QB Connor Shaw, a junior, sustained a bone bruise in his right shoulder in the second quarter of last week. He was forced to leave game at that point, but managed to return with six minutes remaining in the third quarter to lead the Gamecocks to the winning touchdown. Coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that if he is not able to throw by Thursday, he probably will not play on Saturday.
--LB Sharrod Golightly will miss the second game in a three-game suspension for violation of team rules.
--TB Brandon Wilds will miss Saturday's game because of a sprained ankle suffered during fall practice.
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