Arkansas has only seven sacks this season. South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley was sacked seven times last Saturday.
So, does that mean Bentley might have more time to drop back and find open receivers this week? Or does this matchup overwhelming favor the Razorbacks, who will be going up against an inexperienced offensive line that hasn’t learned how to effectively pass block?
Muschamp said the Gamecocks’ issues last Saturday against Texas A&M, particularly in the fourth quarter, were due to a combination of factors. There were missed blocking assignments by running backs and another injury that further depleted the offensive line’s depth and experience. Plus, he believes Bentley has to do a better job of dealing with blitzes.
“We’ll stay positive, we’ll move forward, we’ll learn from our mistakes and go forward,” said Muschamp.
It’s unlikely the South Carolina coaching staff will be able to address all the issues well enough to negate Arkansas’ advantage in the trenches. A strong running game has long been the starting point for Bret Bielema’s offensive playbook, including when he was the head coach at Wisconsin.
It explains why the betting line has flipped this week to favor Arkansas even though Muschamp’s team will have the homefield advantage.
Arkansas averages 205.25 yards per game rushing, while the Gamecocks are gaining only 88.6 on the ground. Once the lost yardage Bentley accounted for on the seven sacks, the Gamecocks were held to 25 yards by the Aggies.
Meanwhile, a player who could have helped the Gamecocks establish a running game will instead be a focal point for Arkansas’ attack. Graduate transfer David Williams, who is tied for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with four, returns to Williams-Brice Stadium as a visitor.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
All times Central
Georgia at Vanderbilt, Saturday 11 a.m., ESPN
Mississippi at Auburn, Saturday 11 a.m., SEC Network
LSU at Florida, Saturday 2:30 p.m., CBS
Arkansas at South Carolina, Saturday 3 p.m., SEC Network
Alabama at Texas A&M, Saturday 6:15 p.m., ESPN
Missouri at Kentucky, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC Network
- Alabama (5-0, 2-0):Last Week: W, Mississippi, 66-3. The Impact: Nick Saban’s team is averaging 508 yards of total offense and 46.2 points per game. And the Crimson Tide defense isn’t bad, either.
- Georgia (5-0, 2-0):Last Week: W, at Tennessee, 41-0. The Impact: In embarrassing Vols, Bulldogs got program’s 800th win and improved to 5-0 for first time since 2012, the last time they made it to the SEC championship game.
- Auburn (4-1, 2-0):Last Week: W, Mississippi State, 49-10. The Impact:. Tigers had seven plays covering 30 or more yards, plus a Pick-6, to take control in battle of ranked SEC West foes. But yeah, we’re still seven weeks away from the Iron Bowl.
- Florida (3-1, 3-0): Last Week: W, Vanderbilt, 38-24. The Impact: Freshman QB Felipe Franks won’t be looking over his shoulder after Luke Del Rio broke a collarbone, marking the second straight year he’s suffered a season-ending injury. Gators did tie NCAA record by scoring in 365th consecutive game.
- Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0):Last Week: W, South Carolina, 24-17. The Impact: Kellen Mond passed for 159 yards and ran for another 95, but the Aggies will face their biggest test with Alabama visiting on Saturday.
6. Kentucky (4-1, 1-1):Last Week: W, Eastern Michigan, 24-20. The Impact: A blocked punt and Mike Edwards’ end zone interception in final seconds saved day for Wildcats against MAC opponent.
7. South Carolina (3-2, 1-2):Last Week: L, Texas A&M, 24-17. The Impact: Jake Bentley was sacked seven times, but led Gamecocks to 17-7 lead before Aggies flipped the script. Without better pass protection and a stronger rushing attack, Will Muschamp’s team will struggle rest of way.
8. Tennessee (3-2, 0-2):Last Week: L, Georgia, 41-0. The Impact: Odds on who will replace Butch Jones give UT favorite son Peyton Manning about as much of a chance as Georgia gave Vols last week.
9. Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2): Last Week: L, at Florida, 38-24. The Impact: After losing to Alabama and Florida, it doesn’t get any easier for Commodores with Georgia making the trip to Nashville. Derek Mason will be anxious for his players to get shutout loss to Crimson Tide out of their system.
10. LSU (3-2, 0-1):Last Week: L, Troy, 24-21. The Impact: Tigers turned the ball over four times, fell behind 24-7, surrendered 206 rushing yards, and saw their 49-game win streak against non-conference foes come to an end.
11. Mississippi State (3-2, 1-2): Last Week: L, at Auburn, 49-10. The Impact:. After losing last two games by combined 80-13, Dan Mullen’s team has dropped from the polls. The Bulldogs have a bye week to figure out how to jump start their offense.
12. Arkansas (2-2, 0-1):Last Week: W, New Mexico State, 42-24. The Impact:. Razorbacks, who have scored more than 40 points in three games, got back on track defensively in ending a two-game skid with a non-conference win.
13. Mississippi (2-2, 0-1):Last Week: L, at Alabama, 66-3. The Impact:.Interim coach Matt Luke will have a hard time rallying the troops for Saturday’s trip to Auburn after last week’s thumping by Alabama.
14. Missouri (1-3, 0-2):Last Week: Idle. The Impact: Tigers have been outscored 117-30 in losing last three games – all at home – and now get to experience life on the road. They’ve also lost their last three games after a bye week.
All times Central; Predicted winners in Bold Caps)
GEORGIA at Vanderbilt, Saturday 11 a.m., ESPN
Mississippi at AUBURN, Saturday 11 a.m., SEC Network
LSU at FLORIDA, Saturday 2:30 p.m., CBS
Arkansas at SOUTH CAROLINA, Saturday 3 p.m., SEC Network
ALABAMA at Texas A&M, Saturday 6:15 p.m., ESPN
Missouri at KENTUCKY, Saturday 6:30 p.m., SEC Network
LAST WEEK: 8-0