Scouting South Carolina: how the Gamecocks win...

Play solid D, keep Tajh Boyd on the run, play takeaway

South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor (98) runs 55-yards to the end zone to score on a pass interception as he is chased by Arkansas fullback Kiero Small (36) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/David Quinn)

South Carolina defensive end Devin Taylor (98) runs 55-yards to the end zone to score on a pass interception as he is chased by Arkansas fullback Kiero Small (36) during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/David Quinn)

Scouting South Carolina: how the Gamecocks win…

Disrupt Clemson’s offense: The Gamecocks have excelled all season at taking away what other teams do best. Against Clemson, that means denying the Tigers their pace and offensive flow and then getting stops in the red zone. In seven of its first 10 games, USC allowed just one touchdown. Going into the game against The Citadel, USC was allowing just 14.3 points per game during an eight-game span, after giving up 39.5 points per game in its first two contests. USC ranks seventh nationally in total defense.

Play take-away: South Carolina leads the SEC with 17 interceptions, including 13 in a late-season run against conference opponents. They’ve returned two for touchdowns – Antonio Allen against Georgia and Devin Taylor against Arkansas. The Gamecocks have been just as effective at forcing fumbles, with 12 in their first 10 games. Overall, USC’s 29 take-aways ranks second nationally to Oklahoma State. If the Gamecocks can extend Clemson’s turnover-prone three-week trend, the’ll make things easy on themselves.

Stay poised: One of USC’s strengths this season has been its ability to stay with its winning plan even when playing from behind. The Gamecocks gave up the game’s first points in each of their first 10 games, yet went on to win eight of them. The scored first against The Citadel, gave up an early equalizer, but then settled in and dominated the rest of the game.

Keep Tajh Boyd on the run: Tajh Boyd’s quick release makes him tough to sack, but the Gamecock pass rush has been relentless and productive. Defensive ends Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney have combined for 15.5 sacks this season. The Tigers’ offensive line gave up six sacks against NC State. The Tigers will be tested outside from the get-go by USC’s defensive ends.

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