Who’s Hot: Louisiana Tech
Jonathan Barnes: The senior place kicker for the ‘Dogs is putting together another spectacular season. Barnes is as consistent as it comes. A miss from 52 yards in week one is his only miss of the year. Barnes connected on a 21 yard game winner against Western Kentucky to make him 7-7 in the final two minutes and in overtime for his career. Barnes gives Tech a decided advantage week in and week out in the kicking game.
Teddy Veal & Rhashid Bonnette: Through the first two weeks of the season it was no secret that the Tech receivers were having issues creating separation. Coach Holtz made an adjustment to move Veal to the slot and Bonnette to a starting outside receiver spot against Western Kentucky, and it paid big dividends. The duo combined to catch 12 balls for a combined 218 yards and one touchdown. Veal was fantastic in the middle of the field, while Bonnette showcased his elite speed numerous times.
Brandon Durman: The junior middle linebacker for the Bulldogs had the best game of his career Saturday night. With Western Kentucky placing a higher significance on the run game, Durman collected nine total tackles with five of those of the solo variety. Durman also collected his first sack of the season in the Bulldog victory.
Jaylon Ferguson: A week ago Bulldog fans were looking for more big plays out of their star defensive end. Ferguson was up to the task Saturday night collecting two sacks. None bigger than a sack on third down that enabled the ‘Dogs to get the ball back and drive for the game winning score.
Who’s Not: Louisiana Tech
Defending Tight Ends: Louisiana Tech has struggled to defend tight ends for much of the last two years. Against Western Kentucky it was more of the same with Deon Yelder and Mik’Quan Deane combining to catch seven passes for 88 yards. Most of the damage came in the first half before Tech defensive coordinator, Blake Baker, made a great adjustment in the second half. The Bulldog defense will face another tall task this week against South Carolina when trying to defend Hayden Hurst.
Who’s Hot: South Carolina
Skai Moore: Moore is one of the best linebackers in the country. After leading the Gamecocks in tackles in 2013, 2014, & 2015 he missed all of 2016 with an injury. Moore is back in 2017 and has not missed a beat. He has collected 22 tackles early on, and Louisiana Tech quarterback, J’Mar Smith, will need to be aware of where he is on every play.
TJ Brunson: Brunson is a sophomore linebacker that is really coming into his own for the Gamecocks. Brunson collected a team-high 11 tackles against Kentucky a week ago and leads the team with 34 stops on the year. Brunson, along with Moore, make up perhaps the best linebacker duo in the Southeastern Conference.
Jake Bentley: The sophomore quarterback for the Gamecocks threw for 306 yards in the loss to Kentucky. In a league that is starved for quality quarterbacks, Bentley is one of the best in the SEC, along with a quarterback Tech is familiar with in Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bentley is more of a pocket passer than Fitzgerald, but with the loss of the Gamecocks top playmaker in Deebo Samuel, the Bulldogs will have to be prepared to see him more in the run game.
Who’s Not: South Carolina
South Carolina Running Backs: Much like Western Kentucky, the Gamecocks struggle to run the football averaging only 86 yards per game. South Carolina ran for 54 yards on 20 attempts last week at home against Kentucky. Rico Dowdle leads the Gamecocks with 98 rushing yards on the year, with Ty’Son Williams having 78 yards in 14 carries.
Total Offense: The big news out of Columbia this week has been that their best playmaker, Deebo Samuel, will miss the game due to injury. This could spell doom for an offense that is averaging only 321 total yards per game. It’s no secret at this point in his coaching career that Will Muschamp has never put together an offense that can put fear in the mind of a defensive coordinator. Much of the same appears to be true early in 2017.