Arkansas Razorbacks news from the staff of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
South Carolina Q&A
South Carolina running back Mike Davis (28) runs past Central Florida linebacker Terrance Plummer, lower left and defensive back Brandon Alexander (37) for a 13-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. South Carolina won the game 28-25.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Editor's Note: Josh Kendall is the South Carolina Gamecocks beat reporter for The State newspaper. Here are his answers to three burning questions about the No. 14 Gamecocks entering Saturday's game at Arkansas.
WholeHogSports: What effect is the Jadeveon Clowney saga having on South Carolina players?
Josh Kendall: The Gamecocks are saying all the right things, but that's the easy part. It would seem the players have to have some opinion on it. There's no question Clowney has gotten at least 75 percent of the media attention focused on this team, and there's no question his production hasn't been what most people, including I would guess his teammates, thought it would be. I'm sure there are some guys who wonder what is going on. But I think teammates, like fans, will put up with a lot from a guy who is very, very talented and Clowney still is that. If Clowney can't play, the defense is not as good, but it hasn't been great with him either.
WholeHogSports: Running back Mike Davis has looked good in the games we've seen. How does he compare to Marcus Lattimore?
Josh Kendall: Don't tell anybody in Columbia I said this, but he's better. There is almost no way to explain what a positive impact Marcus Lattimore had on South Carolina's program from top to bottom. His leadership and example really carried this team through its most successful stretch in history, and his character really gave the Gamecocks a great person to build their story around. That being said, Davis is nearly as good as Lattimore at getting the tough yards, and he's much faster. Davis is one of the most complete backs in school history and his top end speed really makes him a home run threat every time he has the ball.
WholeHogSports: Kentucky scored 28 points on South Carolina's defense last week. What are some areas you think Arkansas can potentially expose Saturday?
Josh Kendall: If I said, 'All of them' would it sound snarky? The Gamecocks really have had problems on all three levels of the defense. The defensive line has been good but not as dominant as it was expected to be (see Clowney answer above). The linebackers are young and poor in pass coverage, and a veteran secondary has played like a bunch of freshman. At linebacker, there appears to be a changing of the guard in progress so we're not sure who will play and how much Saturday. Whoever it is will be very talented but very young. The secondary might be the most glaring weakness because of the visibility of the position. South Carolina has threatened to make changes on defense for several weeks and those changes may come to the secondary this week. All four regular starters have made at least one or two bad mental errors that have led to big plays. All that being said, this group has shown it's capable of playing very solid defense for long stretches of games. It just hasn't played a full game yet.