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 COUNTDOWN TO KICK-OFF "2019" GAMECOCK FOOTBALL

 South Carolina Gamecocks  vs.  North Carolina Tarheels 

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  1. ESPN’s FPI projects South Carolina football’s win total for 2019 April 17, 2019 ESPN’s FPI metric had South Carolina football in pretty high regard. But it’s not bullish on if that will translate to a big season. The efficiency number pegs the Gamecocks as the No. 18 team in the country, a jump from No. 35 at the end of last season. But that only shakes out to 6.1 projected wins. So much has already been said about the Gamecocks’ schedule, but ESPN has it as the hardest in the country. “Difficult slates abound across the SEC -- which boasts 10 of FPI’s top 20 teams -- and the Pac-12 due to aforementioned depth,” ESPN’s Seth Walder wrote. “The teams with the 10 most difficult schedules all play in one of the two conferences. At the top, South Carolina is followed by USC, Florida, Stanford and Georgia. The Crimson Tide rank 20th in strength of schedule.” South Carolina’s schedule features three of the four most likely teams to make the playoff in Clemson, Alabama, and Georgia. The latter two are notable since only one can take a conference title. If USC were to win six games, it would mark the second season in a row in which South Carolina’s record slipped. Will Muschamp’s squad improved by three wins in each of his first two seasons. The neighborhood for the Gamecocks has grown rougher in recent years, and the once-every-6-years meeting with the Crimson Tide makes that more challenging. Clemson grew into a national power, as did Georgia. Both Florida and Texas A&M showed enough promise to be in the conversation for preseason top-10. Kentucky and Missouri have likewise been strong in recent seasons. According to an earlier version of the rankings, South Carolina is projected to have a top-15 quality offense and a defense in the top-35.
  2. Carolina's football big question marks before practice start's again April 15, 2019 South Carolina football has a range of questions coming out of spring practice. The schedule is set going toward August. Here are the biggest places where the Gamecocks need answers. WHAT’S UP WITH RICO DOWDLE, THE RUNNING BACKS? The Gamecocks’ top tailback was MIA all spring, and the coaches have hammered home the point that practice production earns game reps. That said, he’s led the team in yards two of the past three seasons and led them in carries before his injury in 2017. His health has been a particular nagging issue, as has the effectiveness of the South Carolina ground game overall. Will Muschamp said A.J. Turner and Mon Denson were his top backs coming out of camp, so unless a younger player like freshman Kevin Harris makes a move, it will be up to known quantities to simply step up their games. WHO IS HEALTHY, READY AT SAFETY? This position was all but a black hole before last season and proved to be a quagmire of injury and effectiveness during it. With veteran Steven Montac gone and the coaches hoping to move R.J. Roderick to nickel, the spot remains highly unproven. Muschamp has highlighted his main question, which is the health of Jamyest Williams, who appears to be a main option to start there. If he and J.T. Ibe can prove solid and competent, it goes a long way toward solidifying a spot that chewed up a lot of resources last season. The best Gamecock defense under the current staff had some stability at safety with Chris Lammons and D.J. Smith. They need to find something close to that again. HOW’S ORTRE’S KNEE? South Carolina has two wide receiver options it knows it trusts in Shi Smith and Bryan Edwards. It has some potential in guys like Josh Vann or Chad Terrell, plus a trio of incoming players. But then there’s the guy with double-digit starts under his belt. OrTre Smith is a big target who at worst gives the Gamecocks a competent starting unit. But OrTre Smith missed all of last year with a genetic knee issue and was limited through camp. His return gives the team stability, something it can’t say with the other options. ONE MORE STEP FOR JAKE? Jake Bentley is entering his fourth year as a starter for South Carolina. He’s gone from promising freshman to productive, if inconsistent, junior. He lost his best pass catcher and saw last season end on a low note (the Akron and Virginia games) after a red-hot run the second half of the season. He’s got one more shot and a couple young players nipping at his heels. Does he leave USC fans with a good taste as he leaves? ANY FRESHMEN READY? South Carolina coaches might well get tired of their mantra that if a freshman is good enough, he’ll play (and if he’s the best he’ll start), but it doesn’t seem that way. Through spring, several linemen showed promise, as did bruising back Kevin Harris. There’s still a small army of defensive backs and receivers set to arrive. At the moment, the Gamecocks feel a little short on exciting players, so will any of these guys provide something to look forward to? IS THERE A NEXT LEVEL FOR THE LINEBACKERS? Sherrod Greene and T.J. Brunson were South Carolina’s top two linebackers last season. That group was deemed to be lacking. Based on everything we’ve seen, Greene and Brunson will be South Carolina’s top two linebackers this season. Maybe Ernest Jones, Damani Staley or Derek Boykins steps up. But more likely than not, Year 2 post-Skai Moore will have all the faces of Year 1, looking for results that look decidedly better. DATES TO KNOW April 15 — Start of evaluation period ▪ April 25-27 — NFL draft ▪ May 13 — Start of Maymester ▪ May 30 — End of Maymester ▪ May 31 — End of evaluation period ▪ June 6-22 — On-campus camps ▪ July 15-18 — SEC Media Day SPURS UP TOUR WITH WILL MUSCHAMP ▪ Midlands, April 24 ▪ Lancaster, April 29 ▪ Greenville, April 30 ▪ York, May 2 ▪ Sumter, May 7 ▪ Myrtle Beach, May 8 ▪ Atlanta, May 9 ▪ Charleston, May 14
  3. FeatheredCock

    Carolina vs Bama Game

    Carolina vs Bama Game will be on CBS at 3:30. The following week Georgia vs Notre Dame 8:00pm on CBS.
  4. Spring game debut for LB Derek Boykins stands out with big play April 10, 2019 South Carolina football needed more big plays from its linebackers both last year and going into next year. The coaches have been clear on this, and the eye test backs it up. On Saturday, South Carolina’s newest linebacker delivered at least one moment that certainly matched the eye test. In the late going of the annual spring game, a Dakereon Joyner-led offensive group had made it all the way down to the goal line. The young quarterback was handing off to 235-pound tailback Kevin Harris with only a few yards to cover to finish off the drive. Then one of Harris’ freshman classmates stepped in. “Derek Boykins on the goal line, for a freshman, that was a heck of a play,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “To go up right there and light it up in the A-gap.” On second down, after Harris had bowled his way inside the 5 on first down, Boykins drove into Harris in the hole, working around a pair of defensive tackles out of position at the snap. On third down, he slipped past a double-teaming guard and stood the back up. On fourth down from the 1, Boykins stepped in, met Harris just behind the line of scrimmage and held him up for the stop. On the day, he had six tackles and a quarterback hurry. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound North Carolina product certainly looks the part of a college linebacker already. As a high school senior, he was productive with 117 tackles, six for loss, four sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and five QB hurries, while helping out here and there on offense. He did a little pass rushing, worked in coverage and impressed South Carolina’s staff through spring. “He’s a physical, downhill, heavy-handed kid, who can do a lot of different things,” linebackers coach Coleman Hutlzer said. “He played running back in high school He played tight end. He did a lot, Wildcat quarterback.” One thing he might not be doing in the short term is playing multiple spots. Muschamp said early in spring that Boykins would get some work at weakside/dime linebacker, a position that asks more in terms of coverage and playing in space. But a few weeks later, Hutzler said he’s sticking to middle linebacker. That matters because the most experienced Gamecocks linebacker is senior T.J. Brunson, a two-year starter and last year’s leading tackler. He missed the spring after surgery, giving sophomore Ernest Jones and Boykins more reps. Without delving into questions of if Brunson could be a candidate to move over or if Sherrod Greene can make a jump after an inconsistent freshman season, Boykins could at least go part of the way toward answering South Carolina’s depth issues. At times last season, Green and especially Brunson were playing a monstrous amount of snaps. Jones might help, as could Rosendo Louis, who played here and there as a freshman last season. Damani Staley took some steps, but Boykins showed upside and for the moment his position is locked in. “The mid-year transition for a linebacker is tough,” Hutzler said. “There is a lot mentally thrown on our guys. So he’s continuing to work through that.”
  5. Freshman Report: Spring game edition Good read from 247Sports South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and quarterback coach Dan Werner wanted to use Saturday’s spring game as an evaluation period for young quarterbacks competing for that backup position. While freshmen Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski got their work in, they weren’t the only freshmen Gamecocks that saw a lot of reps in front of 25,000 plus at Williams-Brice Stadium. Freshman linebacker Derek Boykins saw significant time on both the garnet and black defenses. Had the quarterbacks been live, he likely would have registered a couple sacks. A stat that did count was a fourth down tackle of fellow freshman Kevin Harris, who tried to punch it in on the goal line. Boykins stuffed him and crept into the offensive backfilled to give Muschamp an emphatic high five. The physical linebacker was a first-year player Muschamp pointed out postgame. (CLICK TO READ FULL ARTICLE)
  6. DEEBO SCORES ONCE MORE It’s tradition for a celebrity to come off the sideline and catch a touchdown pass at some point during the game, but Saturday’s guest was one that has plenty of experience scoring at Williams-Brice Stadium — recently graduated star receiver Deebo Samuel, who’s expected to be a high NFL Draft pick later this month. Samuel made his appearance in the third quarter, catching a 25-yard rainbow from his former QB, Jake Bentley. The two then met on the field for a leaping celebration. PARKER WHITE SURPRISE Just before halftime, the Gamecocks stopped play and lined up for a field goal attempt that junior Parker White drilled. A video then played on the big screen, announcing White, a former walk-on, had been placed on scholarship. His teammates then mobbed White in the middle of the field. In an era when videos of players earning scholarships consistently go viral, White said he had a faint suspicion he might get one eventually, but he said he didn’t expect it on this stage. JAY URICH’S 62-YARD SPRINT AND SCORE Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jay Urich hasn’t seen the field much in his time at South Carolina, and with a senior QB in Bentley and a pair of highly-touted prospects in Dakereon Joyner and Ryan Hilinski, it will be tough for him to ever see time at his listed position. But Urich proved Saturday he doesn’t need to be under center to make an impact, catching nine passes as wide receiver for 130 yards, highlighted by a screen he caught and took 62 yards, sprinting by most of the defense while doing it. JAMEL COOK’S BIG DAY Transfer Jamel Cook has struggled with consistency this spring, Muschamp told reporters after the game, but fans got to see the best the former Southern Cal player had to offer Saturday, as he recorded two pass breakups, three tackles and an interception on the goal line off Joyner. He also managed to lay a vicious hit on receiver Bailey Hart. BOYKINS’ GOAL LINE STUFF Freshman linebacker Derek Boykins had six tackles credited to him on the day, with half of them coming in one epic sequence in the red zone in the fourth quarter. With the offense marching and freshman running back Kevin Harris bulldozing through defenders, Boykins came up with three consecutive tackles inside the five-yard line, including one on the goal line to stuff Harris and force a turnover on downs. A.J. TURNER DOES DOUBLE-DUTY After running back A.J. Turner briefly switched to defensive back at the end of last season due to injuries in USC’s secondary, the possibility of him playing both ways had been discussed plenty through the offseason. Saturday provided the first chance to actually see it in action though, as Turner spent the first half on offense, not producing much on the ground but catching four passes for 38 yards out of the backfield. In the second half, he went to cornerback, where he posted a tackle and breakup in a solid if unspectacular showing. YOUNGSTERS DEBUT Saturday also marked the first time South Carolina fans got to see some of the team’s most highly touted freshmen in action. In particular, five-star defensive lineman Zacch Pickens and four-star quarterback Hilinski have been hyped since before they stepped on campus. Hilinski put together a solid day and continues to battle for the backup QB job, while Pickens was relatively quiet after a spring in which he battled injuries. Boykins, running back Kevin Harris and defensive lineman Joseph Anderson also got significant time on the field and impressed.
  7. What to watch out for in South Carolina’s spring football game April 06, 2019 WHO ACTUALLY PLAYS As with any spring, the Gamecocks are short on bodies. Half the freshmen aren’t enrolled. Plenty of the starters or potential starters are recovering from injuries. USC will be without Javon Kinlaw and T.J. Brunson. That’s before considering the likes of OrTre Smith, Jamyest Williams or Rico Dowdle who have all been banged up or limited this spring. Assuming the team stays with its first-team/second-team format, we might at least get a sense of where things are stacking up. ZACCH PICKENS’ DEBUT A spring game isn’t the best place for a defensive lineman, as his opportunities to tackle a quarterback tend to be limited (although USC’s backups will be live). That said, Pickens is a big curiosity as a five-star recruit, the highest-rated the program has had since Jadeveon Clowney. He’s got the size and ability to be an impact player in Year 1, and we get our first look at what he might be. THE NEWEST TAILBACK Yes, this list is heavy on the freshmen. Outside of them, much of the group has already held some kind of role in-season. Oh, and newcomer Kevin Harris got some social media buzz trampling over some defenders in video that leaked out online. Through spring, the early enrollee has been praised for his power, for how hard he is to tackle and been compared to at least one NFL player with a vehicular nickname. If he can truck a few backup linebackers, it would be worth taking a watch. THE BACKUP QBS, LED BY HILINSKI Going into any spring game, the top focus is going to be the quarterbacks if there’s an open competition or the backups because they’re so rarely seen. Jake Bentley is pretty much in line to start, but it will be the public debut of four-star freshman Ryan Hilinski. He, former four-star Dakereon Joyner and Jay Urich are battling for the No. 2 job. What order they go in and what they show might give an inkling as to who is making progress as the team prepares for the season after Bentley departs. WHO’S NEXT AT TIGHT END? Unless a defensive back just really shines (looking at you Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu), spring games are mostly about skill guys. South Carolina either knows what it has or will be missing key faces at receiver in running back, but tight end is a bit of a question mark. Kiel Pollard and Kyle Markway are the obvious heir apparents, as they got the most backup work last season. But Evan Hinson could be a factor as a play-maker, the staff mentioned Will Register a few times during the spring and early enrollee Traevon Kenion will see some action.
  8. Future will be on display in Saturday's spring game April 04, 2019 Much of the discussion from Will Muschamp this spring is restocking the roster with more players who can contribute across the field. The fourth-year South Carolina coach is looking for more competition that will lead to better depth and ultimately an upgrade in the program. There’s not much that has changed in relation to the backup quarterback position, though the practice and scrimmage snaps have been evenly spread between Dakereon Joyner, a redshirt freshman, true freshman Ryan Hilinski and redshirt sophomore Jay Urich. It’s one of the more talked about position battles this spring, but Muschamp admitted last week that it might not be decided until August training camp. However, he would prefer to decide before the season begins, he said. The Gamecocks will offer a glimpse into the development of each player at their Garnet and Black game at noon on Saturday. “Competition is what you need on your football team to create the kind of consistency you want to have,” Muschamp said. “We were a very inconsistent football team last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But to see the guys competing at a high level in a lot of areas on our football team is good, and we’ve got a lot more talent on our team than we’ve had.” There’s been “shining moments” for all three quarterbacks not named Jake Bentley, but Muschamp hasn’t named a clear No. 2. Muschamp said Bentley won’t play much Saturday, maybe a couple of series in each half. Saturday, for the most part, will belong to the backups. One area that has shown arguably the most dramatic improvement is in the secondary, a position that caused some concern last year, and has experienced several injuries, including to veteran Jamyest Williams, who is still not at 100 percent. But a host of players drew praise from Muschamp, including Israel Mukuamu, Jaycee Horn, R.J. Roderick and J.T. Ibe. The coaching staff feels comfortable with the versatility of players to be used at multiple positions, however, a freshman will need to step in, at least at nickel. “Those guys are playing really well,” Muschamp said. “To me competitive edge is a talent. Those guys like to compete. They like to practice. … I’ve been very pleased with where they’ve come as far as the spring is concerned and their development as a player.” Bentley has seen the confidence and even swagger, too, on defense. “You can definitely see it, and it definitely starts with the guys on the back end,” the quarterback said. “Kind of trickles its way through down to the defensive line. Everybody on defense has that confidence about them that they want to go win every play. That’s going to make our whole team better, definitely our team better on offense. Because Jaycee and Israel want me to throw at them every play, and it’s really great to see them come along and make plays.” As a way to combat depth issues, South Carolina has cross-trained several defensive backs, “so everyone gets a chance to understand their spot and how it all fits together,” said Kyle Krantz, a special teams assistant who also coaches nickelbacks and linebackers. Roderick, in particular, has made a smooth transition between safety and nickel. “I think he likes the physicality of being down there and the techniques and all the stuff he’s doing is the same as playing safety,” Krantz said. “We’re just moving him closer to the box.” Bentley’s SEC-leading interceptions might be magnified if that secondary finds traction, and it’s something to watch Saturday, even in a controlled environment. That’s the biggest area of improvement for one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the SEC. Outside of Hilinski, blue-chip defensive line prospect Zacch Pickens will be one of the most watched players at the spring game, and he’s part of an improved defensive line that Muschamp said has gained valuable experience after playing a slew of true freshman last season. Joseph Anderson and Rick Sandidge were a couple other young players noted by Muschamp when he was candid in describing how true freshmen were overmatched last season along the defensive line that was short on depth. As several young players emerge, especially on defense, South Carolina returns a veteran wide receiver in Bryan Edwards, who understands his role as a leader. “It’s known in our room, I’ve got the most experience,” he said. “So it’s a leadership role I took on upon myself. Nobody really has to tell me you’re the guy. It’s pretty much well known in the locker room. Everybody knows that.”
  9. With one week left in spring, here’s how Gamecocks’ backup QB race is shaping up March 30, 2019 South Carolina has three more spring football practices remaining, and the Gamecocks still are looking for a backup quarterback. Redshirt freshman Dakereon Joyner, sophomore Jay Urich and early enrollee freshman Ryan Hilinski all remain candidates for the job, USC head coach Will Muschamp said Saturday after the Gamecocks held their second scrimmage of the spring. South Carolina will hold its spring game April 6 in Williams-Brice Stadium, but Muschamp doesn’t expect that game to end the competition for the job. “We would like to make a decision in (fall) training camp because it’s hard to rep three when you’re getting ready for a game,” Muschamp said. “The number of reps those guys have gotten (this spring) is right at the same and all those guys have repped with our first group to give them the same opportunities.” Senior Jake Bentley, who has 32 of the team’s last 33 games, will be the Gamecocks’ starter this fall. Joyner, a former Mr. Football in the state, and Hilinski, the top No. 2 ranked pro-style high school quarterback in the country last year, are considered the frontrunners to be his top backup. Joyner, Hilinski and Urich have been “live” all spring and will continue to be in the spring game. That means, unlike Bentley, they can be tackled by the defense in practice. South Carolina defenders have been instructed to make firm contact with the young quarterbacks in the pocket but not tackle them all the way to the ground. Outside the pocket, the three young quarterbacks can be tackled to the ground. Bentley is completely off limits for the defense in order to preserve his health, but USC coaches want to see how their young players respond to live action. “Under duress, making decisions, ball security,” Muschamp said. “We have been thudding them in the pocket, and outside the pocket we have made them live.” Urich has also worked with some of the team’s special teams units this spring. “He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s a wonderful young man, and he’s going to help our football team,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very unselfish young man. He wants to help.”
  10. Video Mike Peterson plus story-lines four-star freshman lineman Joseph Anderson & he is a hard hitter safety R.J. Roderick March 28, 2019 (CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO AND STORY-LINES)
  11. South Carolina tailback Deshaun Fenwick talks maturing on the field of play March 26, 2019 When most fans think of South Carolina tailback Deshaun Fenwick, the first thing that comes to mind was the way he ran all over a hapless Chattanooga team in his first collegiate action. It was a strong debut considering how the staff had held him back, ensuring the 226-pound runner would get a redshirt season. But as his relative anonymity gave way to a 114-yard rushing performance, it overshadowed an area he admits he’d been lacking through most of the season. Call it focus, attitude or approach. “Last year, I probably played around a lot as a far as not being engaged every time I touch the ball, every time I’m on the field,” Fenwick said. He wasn’t on the field in games all that much — just two contests, in which he carried the ball 21 times. But his focus this offseason is his consistency, and he hopes he’s put one thing behind him. “Me personally, I just thought it was me being immature coming out of high school,” Fenwick said. “Not being ready and not taking everything seriously. Now I have an ‘everything matters’ mindset.” That’s something that can set in when a player is redshirting, not getting the payoff of taking the field for a game each week. Fenwick said he had to change his mindset, attitude and effort. He came to USC as a 6-foot-1, 222-pound tailback, a well-built man coming off a 1,400-yard season. With his size and speed combination, then-running backs coach Bobby Bentley said Fenwick was at worst expected to play on special teams. Instead, he was on the sideline for the first 10 games. His new position coach, Thomas Brown, sees a potentially powerful runner who can move the pile. But he has yet to see the consistency Fenwick is striving for. “He’s been up and down,” Brown said. “I think he’s got a lot of ability. “At times he’s his own worst enemy from a mental standpoint, but I think he’s coming along well.” Fenwick echoed that sentiment. He said he’s trying to learn off the limited film he got last year. He was going against a decent rush defense, granted in the late stages of a blowout, and he broke off a few long runs. He’s also been lobbying special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler for a chance to contribute there. At the moment, he’s battling for carries with a group that includes veteran Mon Denson, freshman Kevin Harris and senior part-time defender A.J. Turner. The group will get more crowded as Rico Dowdle returns from injury and Fenwick’s classmate Lavonte Valentine returns from track. As he looked back at the past year, Fenwick didn’t regret having a small role and saving the year of eligibility. “I recommend redshirting for almost anyone because it gets you ready for times like this,” Fenwick said. “When your team needs you and you’ve been working hard.” Now he aims to do that and do something simple. His coach saw him as not being the same player every day, and ironing that out is his chief goal. “Just being consistent and just getting better every single day,” Fenwick said. “And if I don’t get better every day, I’m just making it worse for myself.
  12. Here’s Thomas Brown’s plan for South Carolina’s running backs March 19, 2019 THE STATE It took six spring practices, but Thomas Brown finally got to see almost all his new running backs on the field Tuesday. Brown is South Carolina’s first-year running backs coach, but his first five practices he didn’t have a lot of running backs. Senior Rico Dowdle missed the first five practices with a groin injury, andsenior A.J. Turner was working as a cornerback. Dowdle “got back to some team stuff today so I think he’ll be fine,” Brown said. “From a competition standpoint, they all need work. I want to see those guys come out and compete every day and be consistent.” Dowdle has the most starting experience of any USC back with 19 starts. Last year, he had 674 yards and four touchdowns on 123 carries. In three years, he has 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns on 322 carries. “I thought Rico did a really good job of winning sometimes in one-on-one,” Brown said. “I thought he did a really good job of running behind his pads at times, struggled at times in the backfield from a receiving standpoint, but he’s a really good player.” Brown didn’t seem too concerned about Dowdle’s history of injuries. “He’s a running back. Running back is a hard spot to play and stay healthy if you play it the right way,” Brown said. “You get folded up so much it kind of just happens.” Turner returned to his regular tailback position at Tuesday’s practice. He has 1,322 career yards on 260 carries. Until Tuesday, senior Mon Denson, redshirt freshman Deshaun Fenwick and early enrollee Kevin Harris had been the only scholarship tailbacks available at practice. The only back missing now is redshirt freshman Lavonte Valentine, who is not participating in spring practice because he’s a member of the USC track team. Valentine, a sprinter for the Gamecocks, has had private meetings with Brown this spring. “I want to see him change his body more, develop into more of an all-around tailback,” Brown said. Brown wants all his tailbacks to focus on their pad level in spring practice. “I think they all played too high at times, which obviously affects the way you can make guys miss one-on-one and breaking tackles in the open field or running through contact at the line of scrimmage,” he said. Brown would like to find two backs to share carries at the top of South Carolina’s rotation and then “maybe a third guy to spell those guys,” but no one so far has separated himself in practice, he said. The Gamecocks were 12th in the SEC last year with 152.7 rushing yards per game. “This is not park ball where everybody gets a chance to play just because you’re on the team,” Brown said. “It’s about being able to separate yourself and you have to earn your right to play every single day. Whether you are an old guy or a young guy, it doesn’t matter.”
  13. What South Carolina’s coordinator sees as the most talented unit on the defense March 13, 2019 THE STATE South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will not admit he has enough depth up front on defense. He could have everyone returning from a group with a solid mix of experience and recruiting talent and be adding a four- and five-star recruit each, and still he will tell you this is not enough. He did as much last December, just before South Carolina’s bowl game. Now the group has changed a bit. Former blue chip lineman Shameik Blackshear moved on, as did four-star freshman Josh Belk. And yet, Muschamp’s righthand man, Travaris Robinson, is more than pleased with the group he’s got. “That’s our most talented unit,” Robinson said. “We’re finally at the point we have depth, and that’s the one thing we’ve been lacking the last three years. Recruited the right guys. We’ve got the right guys in the building and we’re excited about it.” The first USC team under the current staff was scraping for bodies up front. The second was solid, but reliant on its top line. Last year’s team opened with a pair of freshmen in the defensive tackle rotation and lost key pieces through much of the season. The team has four opening day starters back in D.J. Wonnum, Kobe Smith, Javon Kinlaw and Aaron Sterling. Beyond them, the cupboard includes former blue chip recruits in Brad Johnson, JJ Enagbare, Rick Sandidge and added a couple more in five-star Zacch Pickens and four-star Joseph Anderson. That’s quite a group on paper, and more than a few have had moments in the spotlight. The questions now are, how many can be brought to their potential and how can that anchor South Carolina’s defense? New line coach John Scott Jr. called that group the foundation, saying everything starts with them. Last season, USC was 101st nationally in how often it got to the quarterback and ranked 119th by allowing 53.1 percent of opponent rushes to go for 5 or more yards. But starting from that point means a lot of room for improvement. Will Muschamp wanted to make a change in terms of coaching that position and had already started by reaching out to Scott to replace Lance Thompson (who helped build that line) as early as the first weekend of December. Now that trove of talent is in new hands, and his coordinator likes what he’s seeing. “I’m excited about coach Scott,” Robinson said. “He’s done a great job of just bringing some of his thinking to our room and sometimes you need some fresh ideas. He was able to give us some of those.”
  14. Will South Carolina run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense? March 12, 2019 When South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said one of the reasons for hiring defensive line coach John Scott Jr. was Scott’s familiarity with the 3-4 defense, some Gamecocks fans wondered if that meant their team was switching up its style. Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson hopes not. “I think we have the talent to play four-man,” Robinson said during the first week of Gamecocks’ spring practice. “I don’t think we need much more three-man. I like what we’re doing from a four-down standpoint.” That doesn’t mean South Carolina won’t use some three-man fronts. Virtually every defense in the country uses principles of both throughout games and throughout seasons. The evolution of offenses demands it, Scott said. (A 4-3 uses four traditional defensive linemen and three linebackers, while a 3-4 flips the personnel.) “With what you are getting out of offenses now, you have to have the ability to do both,” Scott Jr. said. “Everybody does a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I think that’s where the game is going.” The Gamecocks “looked at some different things schematically that we want to look at and some things we know can help us moving forward with some opponents” during the break between the end of the season and start of spring, Muschamp said. South Carolina’s defensive coaches visited with NFL staffs in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, Robinson said. The Buccaneers’ defense is coordinated by Todd Bowles, the head coach of the New York Jets when Scott was an assistant coach there and a proponent of the 3-4 defense. “Three-4, 4-3, some call it ‘over’ and ‘under.’ We call it different [things] — they still line up the same,” Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians told reporters in January. “We’re going to attack. As long as our players attack — in today’s NFL, you’re in nickel defense 70 percent of the time, so you’re playing a four-man line. We’ll have odd-man lines, we’ll have four-man lines. That’s just schematics to me.” South Carolina’s coaches will take more visits after spring practice, Robinson said. “I would say we’ll probably be more four-man than three-man,” he said. “As an offense, it’s hard to prepare for both of those things, so that’s the reason why we do it. We aren’t going to change philosophies or what we think. That’s not going to happen, but there may be a couple of tweaks.”
  15. How DJ Swearinger is taking role in shaping young Gamecock safety March 06, 2019 THE STATE It meant a lot to current South Carolina safety R.J. Roderick when he received social media praise from former South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger. It still does, in fact. “That is constant motivation going back to that and looking at that,” Roderick said of the Twitter message Swearinger sent last year in response to a highlight of a big hit by Roderick. “I like it!! #GoonSquad,” Swearinger wrote on Twitter on Dec. 1 after Roderick posted a video highlight of his play. “It’s great, just to know that someone of his caliber is showing love,” Roderick said Wednesday. “It also drives me because I want to be where he’s at and I’m not there.” Swearinger is entering his seventh year in the NFL this fall after being selected in the second round in 2013. Roderick is entering his sophomore season at South Carolina after starting five games and recording 56 tackles as a true freshman last year. Roderick did not speak to the media last year due to head coach Will Muschamp’s rule barring freshmen from talking to reporters. When Roderick made his debut appearance Wednesday, he spoke about how much his relationship with Swearinger has meant to him. Roderick and Swearinger met before last season and now trade text messages, Roderick said. “He shed some light on some stuff for the future,” Roderick said. “The things that he told me I will carry on through my college career and my life.”
  16. FeatheredCock

    Talking 2019 defense

    Gamecock can stay healthy, This could be a much-improved defense over last years addition. Buck: Wonnum(255) / Johnson(240) / Fennell(240) (when 100%) / Fitten(235) DE: Enagbare(265) / Sterling(245) / Thomas(275) / Anderson(270) DT: Kinlaw(305) / K-Smith(298) / Sandidge(295) / Davis(285) / Pickens(295) / Ellis(280) LB: Brunson(235) / Jones(235) / Greene(228) / Louis(235) / Staley(225) / Thompson(220) / Boykins(226) CB: Horn(195) / Mukuamu(198) / S-Sanders(185) / C-Smith(188) / Dixon(180) S/N: Ibe(200) / Turner(195) / Roderick(195) / Cook(202) / Dickerson(188) / Gipson(190) / Williams(175) Robinson(195) The Gamecocks will have a solid blend of talent, experience & newcomers. I think Scott may well get more out of the unit as he'll be coaching all the down linemen and not just the DT's. I think Peterson will have the Bucks again. Gamecocks will not be imposing size-wise but will have the size to hold up and the depth to rotate. Time to show it on the field. So who are the disrupters on the DL? Kinlaw, Wonnum, Sandidge, Enagbare & possibly Davis. And when he starts getting the scheme, Pickens. This can be a very good Carolina defense for the 2019 campaign. It will require of course good health (certainly the Gamecocks didn't have last year). It also requires talent which I believe Carolina now has. Time to "coach 'em up" so they play smart, play as a team and play up to their abilities. It sure would be nice if Green (JC DT) got his academic act together and could enroll in August. By mid season he might be able to really help us in the interior DL. Just my
  17. Josh Vann sets goals as he battles at USC’s deepest position March 04, 2019 It’s not often a college football player can succinctly sum up a year as tightly as South Carolina sophomore Josh Vann did, reflecting on his freshman season. “It was pretty good,” Vann said. “I think it could’ve been better.” By any measure, it was pretty good for a freshman. He joined a team with three entrenched starting receivers. After an early injury to one reserve, he was the No. 4 guy behind three players with NFL potential. He ended up fourth on the team in catches, played in every game and generally got his feet wet. While he played and caught passes, there wasn’t much in the way of big plays. A smaller, quicker player, he averaged only 6.6 yards per reception. His longest play was 16 yards, and when he got a chance to take a bigger role in the bowl game, he was held without a catch. This spring, he’s back on the field, with bigger goals in mind. “I just come in this year and work better in the spring so I can become a better receiver and better overall player,” Vann said. He had 118 yards and a score last season, and now has an opportunity. Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith are back as reliable receivers, but Deebo Samuel and his 62 catches last season are not. USC’s wide receiver group is deep and will get deeper come summer, but Vann will have a chance to establish himself. He was working with the starters in an open period of practice during the first week of spring, and at least one teammate saw Vann develop in a key area. “I think it’s just maturity,” quarterback Jake Bentley said. “It’s maturity in his routes. Understanding where and how to get open is a big thing, and it’s not just running a curl. It’s finding a way to get open on that curl.” At the moment, Vann’s competition is diverse. Former starter OrTre Smith is returning from a knee injury and offers a different sort of option (Smith stands at 6-foot-4, Vann 5-foot-10). Veterans Randrecous Davis and Chavis Dawkins are still around, while Chad Terrell is coming off an ACL and Darius Rush is coming off a redshirt year. USC will also add a trio of talented options in four-star Keveon Mullins, high-ceiling athlete Xavier Legette and Tyquan Johnson, who had to spend last season in prep school. Vann came to USC as a top-150 recruit nationally. He said his biggest areas to work on are strength — a shoulder injury limited his lifting after enrolling last summer — speed and routes. He also admitted the bowl game still sticks with him a little. “Most definitely because, of course, everybody knows I had those two drops in the bowl game,” Vann said. “That’s not me. But I’ve just got to put that in the past.” Those drops came in big spots and came on a day when the Gamecocks were shut out. He’d been put on a bigger stage, and success didn’t come. In some ways, that fit the mold of “pretty good, could have been better.” He did the work to earn a big role, but wasn’t able to deliver … yet. Now he’ll battle at the team’s deepest position to hold onto that role and become the play-maker he’s expected to be. “Coming in, they told me I was going to play a lot,” Vann said. “But I’m just thankful for having the playing time I did. I think, coming in as a freshman, I got plenty.”
  18. Will Muschamp meets with media after practice with video, notes and more March 01, 2019 Will Muschamp Media Availability — 3/1/19 South Carolina football had a guest on Friday in Theteka Joyner, the mother of Gamecocks quarterback Dakereon. It gave USC coach Will Muschamp a chance to chat and look back with the family of the former four-star prospect. “Sitting there today, talking to them after practice, I said, ‘Alright, practice three of spring last year, practice three of spring this year, what do you think” Muschamp said. “He said, ‘Like you said, it’s slowed down a lot for me.’ So a lot of progress, really command and some natural things that he does anyway. (MORE)
  19. Why the Gamecocks are teaching two D-line schemes and how having 2 coaches factors in February 28, 20149 THE STATE For the first five of South Carolina’s spring practices, the Gamecocks defense won’t work on one half of its defensive looks. The next five, they’ll hit the reset button and work on something very different. Some of the defensive linemen will spend the whole time with new line coach John Scott Jr., while others will be passed off between Scott and outside linebacker coach Mike Peterson. All of this is about building what Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp calls a “multiple” defense, one that can deploy looks with three and four down linemen. Said Muschamp: “How our teaching progression really works, we spend the first five days in four-down, which there’s a lot of attention, progression for the inside techniques that very much carry over, and then a teaching progression for our Bucks and our ends. … We’ll take practices 6-10 and just play three-down. “As we work into practice 11, we’ll co-mingle them. It helps our offense as far as installation, as well.” What this means in a broader sense: FIRST FIVE PRACTICES: FOUR-DOWN WORK Who is with Scott: Inside tackles and nose guards Who is with Peterson: Bucks and strongside ends Coaching points: The staff has a teaching progression with a good amount of carryover no matter where the two inside players line up. The outside players start out by being on either the right or left. This means they’ll have to learn both the 6 technique — lining up over a tight end — and the open-side 5 technique, which is lining up on the outside shoulder of a tackle on the non-tight end side. SECOND FIVE PRACTICES: THREE-DOWN WORK Who is with Scott: End, tackle and nose Who is with Peterson: Bucks and Sams Coaching points: This scheme is about playing one-gap defense, which means defensive linemen play face-to-face with offensive linemen and are responsible for the gaps on either side. The ends (4 techniques) and nose tackle in the middle (zero technique) are asked to do many of the same things. That’s a stark contrast to the Bucks and Sams, who stand up and are asked to control the edges, often rush the passer and sometimes drop into coverage. Read a primer for what the technique numbers mean here. Muschamp explained in the four-down (one-gap) looks, players have a lot of carryover no matter where they line up inside. The same is true of the end and Buck players in that scheme. Then in three-down, the linemen all learn similar things, far different from what the edge players are being asked to do. “It’s a totally different technique,” Muschamp explained. “So you can’t really have one coach coaching those guys.”
  20. The No. 1 thing the Gamecocks will focus on this spring February 28, 2019 THE STATE On the first day of South Carolina’s spring practices, Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson showed his players a film. It wasn’t a highlight video. Instead, it was a collection of all the times South Carolina tipped a pass but failed to turn it into an interception, forced a fumble and then didn’t recover it or let an opponent hold the football in a precarious position without forcing it loose. “I said, ‘These are the opportunities we missed, and this can’t happen,’ ” Robinson said. “For us to be the football team that we want to be and that we are capable of being, we have to make those plays. We have to get the tips and overthrows. When the ball is on the ground, we have to come up with the football. We had our opportunities, and we didn’t cash in on them.” That, as much as anything, is the reason the Gamecocks slipped from 9-4 in 2017 to 7-6 in 2018, the coaches believe, and that will be the No. 1 emphasis in South Carolina’s 15 practices culminating in the April 6 spring game. “In our points of emphasis for improving from last year, the No. 1 thing that jumps out at you is turnover margin,” head coach Will Muschamp said. South Carolina finished 101st in the country last year in turnover margin at minus-5. That’s after finishing in the top 25 in the country in Muschamp’s first two seasons — 13th in 2017 at plus-11 and 24th in 2016 at plus-7. “In six games of the seven we won, we won the turnover margin,” Muschamp said. “The Akron game was the only one where we were on the flip side of that, and we were a better team than they were so we were able to overcome it.” The problem does not rest entirely with the South Carolina defense. The Gamecocks offense turned the ball over 21 times, which ranked 87th in the country. Fourteen of those giveaways were interceptions thrown by starting quarterback Jake Bentley. “The bottom line is, we need to take care of the ball,” Muschamp said. “We had 14 interceptions. They are not all on Jake, but that is far too many turnovers from that position and he understands that. That’s the No. 1 area where we’ve got to make improvement as a football team.” The first day of spring practice, Wednesday, didn’t start off a lot better for the offense, from Robinson’s perspective. “I thought the ball was on the ground a lot today,” Robinson said. “From a mindset standpoint, our mind is in the right place. I truly believe that. Coach Muschamp made an emphasis in front of the team today about how we are going to get the football and how it directly affects winning and losing.” Last season, South Carolina’s young defenders often struggled with knowing when the secure a tackle and when to try to force a turnover, which led to letdowns on both fronts, Robinson said, and that will be a point of emphasis this spring with a more veteran unit. “There are a lot of teachable moments as far as that is concerned as far as when we want to take a shot at the ball and when we want to secure the tackle and get the guy on the ground and making good decisions,” Robinson said.

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