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Countdown to kickoff: Hello, South Carolina

8/24/2012

GeauxTigerNation writers Gary Laney and David Helman get you ready for the season with a daily breakdown throughout August of what LSU is facing in the fall, from its opponents, to its road trips to who it's recruiting. Today, David Helman previews LSU matchup against South Carolina with Neil White of GoGamecocks.com.

Q: South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has expressed a lot of confidence in quarterback Connor Shaw this offseason. What's the vibe around the Gamecocks' starter's abilities?

Both Spurrier and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus -- raved isn't the right word -- but they've really been happy with what he has done in camp. He was thrown into the fire last year after Stephen Garcia was kicked off the team, but he's got a better grasp of the playbook and better confidence in himself. He'll also have running back Marcus Lattimore in the backfield, so that's really going to help.

Q: Much has been made this offseason of Lattimore's health and his ability to stay on the field this season. How do the Gamecocks plan to keep their star running back healthy?

A more experienced Shaw will help him, but tailback is one of the spots they have some depth at. Senior running back Kenny Miles is coming in for his last year. He hasn't started a ton of games over his career, but he runs hard and has done a nice job. A bunch of guys got hurt last year and they wound up starting true freshman Brando Wilds, and he got some time over the back end of the year.

They feel confident that if they run Miles or Wilds out there they should be in pretty good shape,so Lattimore can take some breaks.

Q: South Carolina and Georgia are typically considered the two favorites to win the SEC East. But much has been made of Georgia's significantly easier schedule. The Bulldogs don't play Alabama, Arkansas or LSU, while the Gamecocks travel to LSU and host Arkansas. Can South Carolina overcome that?

The key is beating UGA head-to-head to give themselves some margin for error. They have LSU on the road, which will obviously be incredibly difficult. But they have Arkansas at home, which should help. The fans are upset -- they think it's set up against them -- but the talent is there and there's a feeling the Gamecocks could be favored in every game except the LSU game.