Preview: ECU at No. 9 South Carolina

From staff reportsSeptember 8, 2012 

SPORTS FBC-VANDY-SCAROLINA 6 CS

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore (21) scores a touchdown in the first quarter against the Vanderbilt Commodores in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, August 30, 2012. (Gerry Melendez/The State/MCT)

GERRY MELENDEZ — MCT

  • More information Quote of the week “I don’t know if he’s going to be able to play or not. He thinks he is. He thinks he’ll be ready by game time.” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on whether Connor Shaw will play Saturday.

East Carolina (1-0) at No. 9 South Carolina (1-0) | 12:21 p.m., WITN

Keep an eye on

South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

The 6-foot, 218-pound junior tailback is the centerpiece of the South Carolina offense and has incredible playmaking ability. After being named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2010, Lattimore was in the midst of another stellar season in 2011 when he tore the ACL in his left knee in the seventh game. Lattimore still led the Gamecocks with 818 rushing yards and 10 TDs.

Last week, Lattimore returned to action in the team’s 17-13 season-opening victory over Vanderbilt, and after fumbling on his first carry, recovered nicely to finish the game with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts.

“He is a Heisman Trophy candidate and he will be one of the better backs in the country this season,” ECU coach Ruffin McNeill said.

Stats that matter

7, 67 South Carolina pass completions and yards last week, lowest ever by a Steve Spurrier-coached offense.

Key matchup

ECU RT Robert Jones vs. USC DEs Devin Taylor and Jadeveon Clowney

Jones, ECU’s senior 6-3, 309-pound right tackle, made his first career start last Saturday and faces a difficult task in his second as he will clash with South Carolina’s mammoth star defensive ends. Clowney is a projected future first-round pick, and Taylor has NFL-caliber talent as well.

Jones will see more of Taylor, a 6-8, 267-pound senior who racked up six sacks last season and was an honorable mention All-SEC performer.

Key mismatch

ECU’s receivers vs. South Carolina secondary

South Carolina lost junior cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the NFL draft, and fellow starting CB Akeem Auguste is sidelined while recovering from a thigh procedure.

The Pirates will look to attack junior safety-turned-corner Jimmy Legree, making his second career start there Saturday. The Pirates will also target sophomore Victory Hampton, who started for the first time against Vanderbilt.

Pulse check

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw was sidelined by a shoulder contusion in the second quarter of the team’s 17-13 win over Vanderbilt last Thursday. Shaw returned and was effective running the ball, but his status remains a game-time decision.

Brian Haines

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