October 11, 2007

Who Needs To Step Up?

Chris Smelley and the South Carolina Gamecocks take to the road this weekend for their first game outside the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium for the first time in three games. This article takes a look at five players who need to step up on Saturday afternoon with big time performances to ensure the favored Gamecocks notch the victory.

Chris Smelley, QB, 6-1, 221, Fr., Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Since taking over the starting role prior to the Mississippi State game two weeks ago, Smelley has performed well overall. He's protecting the football for the most part, spreading the ball around nicely and is developing a knack for throwing to a spot the way Steve Spurrier likes. This weekend, he will face a new challenge, as he'll be making his first start on the road. It's extremely important that he continue to manage the offense and not try to do too much against a North Carolina defense that picked off four Kyle Wright passes in their last contest..
Brandon Isaac, CB, 6-2, 201, Sr., Blackville, S.C.

With starting cornerback Carlos Thomas likely out for this game due to a next injury he suffered in Tuesday's practice, the onus falls on Isaac to step up to the plate with a big game. Isaac made his return last week against Kentucky from a shoulder injury suffered in the third game of the season and responded with four tackles. Look for his snaps to increase against the Tar Heels, and he will need to be on top of his game in helping contain a talented group of North Carolina receivers.
Weslye Saunders, TE, 6-5, 260, Fr., Durham, N.C.

By now it's clear Saunders is a dangerous weapon in the Gamecock passing game, and he's becoming one of Smelley's favorite targets. Saunders is eager to redeem himself after allowing a Kentucky defender to strip him at the goal line after a great catch and run. What better time to do it than this weekend against the program he chose South Carolina over and the team he grew up watching as a child growing up in nearby Durham?
Justin Sorensen, RT, 6-7, 323, Jr., Vancouver Island, B.C.

Sorensen's play has been solid for the most part this year, but he's coming off his worst outing of the year last week against Kentucky. He and his fellow trenchmen need to step up the challenge this week and not only help the Gamecocks reestablish their running game, but also do a better job of protecting Smelley and giving him the time he needs in the pocket to scan the field.
Marque Hall, DT, 6-3, 302, Jr., Wingate, N.C.

The Carolina defense has come under fire in recent weeks for its inconsistency in stopping the run and it all starts up front at the point of attack. Hall lost his starting position after an inadequate game against Mississippi State, but could be back in the lineup this weekend. Regardless of whether he starts, he'll play a lot of snaps, and he needs to wreak havoc against the Heels. This game represents the junior's only opportunity to play his home state school, and you can bet he's been excited about this matchup for some time.

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