VIDEO: Travaris Robinson Meet with the Media after practice
Defensive Coordinator Answers Questions Following Second Practice
Aug. 4, 2018
While South Carolina’s offense failed meet lofty expectations, the Gamecocks defense in 2017 exceeded very modest projections.
Defensive Coordinator Travaris Robinson stopped short of calling himself satisfied with where the defense performed last year, but did sound pleased speaking after Saturday’s practice about the depth they created by playing more younger players in 2017.
One of the positions he concedes they didn’t develop well enough was the safety position, where the Gamecocks have just one player who played the position for them last year in Steven Montac. Aside from him, USC has two players converted from other positions in Jamyest Williams and Tavyn Jackson along with graduate transfer JT Ibe all trying to stabilize a glaring weakness spot in the secondary.
Robinson said he’s intrigued by seeing both freshmen Rick Sandidge and JJ Enagbare on the defensive line when the group puts on pads for the first time next week. Fellow freshman Josh Belk has yet to see the field, Robinson said, “He’s still going through his deal, still getting cleared and all that stuff. Physically, he’s good to go.”
USC will hold closed practices on Sunday and Monday, with the next media availability coming after Monday morning’s workout.
Travaris Robinson Media Availability — 8/4/18
Gamecocks shuffling players, Gamecocks shuffling players
“We don’t have guys that played a bunch of reps there,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. “You’re looking at guys that haven’t played there before. The only person we have back there with any kind of experience is Montac. We just have to do a good job of developing those guys and simplifying the plan.”
The Gamecocks’ pool of safeties is deep with currently eight scholarship players practicing right now at that spot, but it’s inexperienced.
Of those eight, two are true freshmen, three are redshirt freshmen that haven’t seen in-game action yet and one is a graduate transfer J.T. Ibe that is still learning the Gamecocks’ system.
So while the Gamecocks have bodies at the position, they’re still trying to find safeties that have some game experience. That’s why they’ve moved Jamyest Williams to the spot and are working him there to start preseason camp.
Williams played all of his games last season at cornerback, primarily the nickel position where he started six games and had two interceptions.
He’ll work some at that spot this camp but is primarily working with Montac and the other safeties.
“He has some familiarity with what we’re doing so he understands some of the different things he can do back there, but it’s little stuff, the nuances of the position and playing in the deep part of the field when the ball comes,” Robinson said of Williams. “He doesn’t have natural instincts of doing that because he hasn’t done that. He’ll continue to get better the more reps he gets.”
Two of the biggest wildcards in the group are redshirt freshmen Tavyn Jackson and Jaylin Dickerson, two defensive backs that were expected to play their freshmen seasons before getting injured.
Jackson, who worked at cornerback his first year on campus, was sidelined with soft tissue hamstring issues and has moved to safety to add some depth to the position this fall.
Dickerson, who’s tied for the tallest in the group at 6-foot-1, missed last year with a shoulder injury but is fully healthy now and ready to contribute.
“Jaylin’s a guy that’s very athletic and we had high hopes and aspirations for him coming in early as a mid-year,” Robinson said. “Jaylin’s a guy that can help us athletically. Obviously we’re going to have to see. We haven’t hit yet, so we have to see how everything’s going and how everything’s holding up,” I’m anxious to see when we put on the pads who’s going to separate themselves.”
The Gamecocks have a little less than a month to decide and work on a safety rotation that could involve shuffling a few more guys in an out of those two spots.
“I think it starts with getting the four, five, six best guys on the field,” Muschamp said. “Whether that is corner, safety, nickel, or a defensive back playing the dime position for us, which we have some body-wise guys with us that can do that for us. We have to find out how to get the best four out there.”