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  1. FeatheredCock

    2018 South Carolina Football Notebook

    2018 South Carolina Football Notebook Football 1/10/2019 GCF Staff Report | From USC Sports Information 2018 SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCK FOOTBALL NOTES: • 20 players from this year’s squad have earned their degrees. • 42 players made starts during the season, including 13 players who made their first career start. • 14 true freshmen saw playing time. Five true freshmen started in the Belk Bowl. • The Gamecocks were bowl-eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 years. They elected not to participate in a bowl game following a 6-5 season in 2004, did not receive a bowl invitation following a 6-6 campaign in 2007, and did not qualify for a bowl game following a 3-9 season in 2015. • Will Muschamp becomes the first coach to take South Carolina to bowl games in each of his first three seasons. Steve Spurrier’s first three Carolina teams were bowl-eligible, but the 2007 squad did not receive a bowl bid following a 6-6 campaign. • With 22 wins, Will Muschamp has won more games in his first three seasons at South Carolina than any coach in school history. • Six players won SEC Player of the Week recognition, including D.J. and Dylan Wonnum, who became the first set of brothers to be honored by the league in the same week. • The Gamecocks have put together back-to-back seasons of 4 or more SEC wins for the first time since 2012-13 and for just the sixth time in school history. • All five of the Gamecocks’ regular-season losses came to teams ranked in the CFP final top 20 (#2, 5, 10, 14, 19). • The Gamecocks averaged 30.1 points per game, most since 2014 (32.6). • The Gamecocks averaged 152.8 rushing yards per game, most since 2015 (154.7). • The Gamecocks averaged 272.8 passing yards per game, most since 2014 (281.6). • The Gamecocks averaged 425.6 total yards per game, most since 2014 (442.6). • The Gamecocks had five games of 500 or more yards of offense for the first time in school history. • The Gamecocks had back-to-back games against Chattanooga and Clemson with 600 yards of offense. It was the first time that has happened in school history and just the 11th and 12th times that Carolina has eclipsed the 600-yard mark. • The Gamecocks moved up 62 spots, the nation’s sixth-best increase, in offensive yards per play rankings from 2017 to 2018. • The Gamecocks set a single-season school record with five passes of 70 yards or more. • The offense allowed 23 sacks after surrendering 29 in 2017 and 41 in 2016. It was the fewest sacks allowed since 2013 (23). • Jake Bentley set a single-game school record with 510 yards passing against Clemson. It tied for the eighth-most yards thrown in SEC history. • The Gamecocks scored 35 points against the second-ranked Clemson defense, the most points Carolina has scored in the Palmetto series since 1975. • Jake Bentley threw 27 touchdown passes, the second-highest mark in school history, two shy of Steve Taneyhill’s school record of 29, set in 1995. • Bryan Edwards and Deebo Samuel both went over the 2,000-yard mark for career receiving yards and rank among Carolina’s all-time top 10 in both career receptions and yards. • The Gamecocks averaged 4.5 yards per carry after averaging just 3.9 yards a season ago. • T.J. Brunson led the team with 106 tackles, the most for a Gamecock since 2015. • Deebo Samuel tied an SEC record with his fourth-career kickoff return for a touchdown. • The Gamecocks ranked 13th in the nation in net punting at 40.76 yards per punt. • Joseph Charlton ranked 13th in the country and set the school record for punting average in a season at 44.8 yards and is the school record holder for career punting average at 44.1. • Parker White hit on 13-of-16 field goal attempts, an 81.3 percent accuracy. PLAYER RANKINGS ON CAROLINA’S ALL-TIME LIST • BRYSON ALLEN-WILLIAMS – Career o Tackles for Loss – 27.5 – T10th • JAKE BENTLEY – 2018 Game o Yards Passing – 510 vs. Clemson – 1st o Pass Attempts – 50 vs. Clemson – T7th o Pass Attempts – 47 vs. Georgia – T10th o Pass Completions – 32 vs. Clemson – T4th o Pass Completions – 30 vs. Georgia – T10th o Passing Touchdowns – 5 vs. Clemson – T1st o Total Offense – 490 vs. Clemson – 2nd o Total Offense – 371 vs. Ole Miss – T10th • JAKE BENTLEY – 2018 Season o Passing Yards – 3,171 – 3rd o Pass Attempts – 389 – T6th o Pass Completions – 240 – 6th o Passing Touchdowns – 27 – 2nd o Touchdowns Responsible For – 29 – 4th • JAKE BENTLEY – Career o Passing Yards – 7,385 – 4th o Pass Attempts – 973 – 4th o Pass Completions – 610 – 3rd o Completion Percentage – 62.7 – 2nd o Passing Touchdowns – 54 – 3rd o Starting Quarterback Wins – 19 – 6th o Total Offense – 7,533 – 5th o Touchdowns Responsible For – 62 – 4th • JOSEPH CHARLTON – 2018 Season o Punting Average – 44.8 – 1st • JOSEPH CHARLTON – Career o Punting Average – 44.1 – 1st • BRYAN EDWARDS – Career o Receptions – 163 – 5th o Receiving Yards – 2,229 – 6th o Receiving Touchdowns – 16 – T9th o Consecutive Games with a Reception – 38 – 2nd • DEEBO SAMUEL – 2018 Game o Receiving Yards – 210 vs. Clemson – T2nd o Touchdown Receptions – 3 vs. Clemson – T2nd • DEEBO SAMUEL – 2018 Season o Receptions – 62 – T9th o Receiving Yards – 882 – 10th o Receiving Touchdowns – 11 – 2nd o Touchdowns Scored – 13 – T4th o All-Purpose Yards – 1,478 – 9th • DEEBO SAMUEL – Career o Receptions – 148 – 8th o Receiving Yards – 2,076 – 10th o Receiving Touchdowns – 16 – T9th o Touchdowns Scored – 28 – T4th o Kick Return Average – 29.0 – 1st o Kickoff Returns for Touchdowns – 4 – 1st o All-Purpose Yards – 3,457- 8th • PARKER WHITE – 2018 Season o Points Scored – 84 – T10th POST-SEASON HONORS First Team All-America (AFCA) Deebo Samuel (AP) Second Team All-America (FWAA) Deebo Samuel (KR) Second Team All-America (Phil Steele) Deebo Samuel (KR) Freshman All-America (247Sports) Dylan Wonnum (OL) First Team All-SEC (Associated Press) Deebo Samuel (AP) First Team All-SEC (Coaches) Deebo Samuel (AP and RS) First Team All-SEC (Phil Steele) Deebo Samuel (WR and KR) Second Team All-SEC (Associated Press) Deebo Samuel (WR) Second Team All-SEC (Associated Press) Zack Bailey (OG) Second Team All-SEC (Coaches) Deebo Samuel (WR) Second Team All-SEC (Coaches) Zack Bailey (OL) Second Team All-SEC (Coaches) Joseph Charlton (P) Second Team All-SEC (Phil Steele) Zack Bailey (OG) Second Team All-SEC (Phil Steele) T.J. Brunson (LB) SEC All-Freshman (Coaches) Dylan Wonnum (OL) SEC All-Freshman (Coaches) Jaycee Horn (DB) WEEKLY AWARD WINNERS Javon Kinlaw – SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week at Vanderbilt (9/22) Parker White – SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week vs Missouri (10/6) Jaycee Horn – SEC Freshman of the Week vs Missouri (10/6) Joseph Charlton – Ray Guy National Punter of the Week vs Texas A&M (10/13) D.J. Wonnum – SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week vs Tennessee (10/27) Dylan Wonnum – SEC Freshman of the Week vs Tennessee (10/27) Deebo Samuel – SEC Special Teams Player of the Week at Ole Miss (11/3) Jake Bentley – SEC Offensive Player of the Week vs Chattanooga (11/17) (College Sports Madness) ALL-STAR GAME INVITATIONS Bryson Allen-Williams Tropical Bowl Zack Bailey East-West Shrine Game Dennis Daley Senior Bowl Rashad Fenton East-West Shrine Game Keisean Nixon East-West Shrine Game Deebo Samuel Senior Bowl
  2. The five biggest surprises from South Carolina’s football season December 06, 2018 THE STATE South Carolina’s regular season is finished. The Gamecocks (7-5) will play one more game, against Virginia (7-5) in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29, but most of what their season will be remembered for has already happened. With that in mind, here are the five biggest surprises from the 2018 football season: The offense against Clemson It is still stunning that South Carolina gained 600 yards against the No. 2 Tigers and their second-ranked defense. Muschamp’s first two teams gained 425 yards against Clemson combined. The Tigers boast one of the most decorated (and rightly so) defensive lines in recent college football history, and South Carolina scorched them. It was enough to make a 21-point loss, and a fifth loss in a row to Clemson at that, almost palatable to swallow for South Carolina fans. In terms of cementing confidence in first-year offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and giving the Gamecocks something positive to build on in the offseason, it was tremendously important. The injuries There were a couple of areas where the Gamecocks just couldn’t afford many if any injuries if they were going to have a competitive defense, those being at defensive end and in the secondary. Both were leveled by injuries. Five safeties suffered season-ending injuries, including the two graduate transfers brought in during the offseason because the safety depth was poor before all the injuries. At defensive end, the top three players — D.J. Wonnum, Bryson Allen-Williams and Aaron Sterling — missed a combined 15 games during the regular season. Michael Scarnecchia Throughout the offseason, many South Carolina fans thought the senior backup was just keeping the clipboard warm until freshman Dakereon Joyner unseated him, so the first surprise was how early and how definitively Scarnecchia locked up the No. 2 job. The second surprise, of course, was the Missouri game. Filling in for an injured Jake Bentley, Scarnecchia threw for 249 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions and led a dramatic comeback victory in a second half rain storm. His performance has been somewhat forgotten because of how well Bentley played in the second half of the season, but Scarnecchia’s moment came in a moment when South Carolina badly needed him. Parker White White was terrible as a freshman, hitting only 14-of-25 kicks and leaving fans wondering what the Gamecocks were going to do for a kicker in 2018. Instead of being undone by the failure, though, White bounced back to hit 13-of-15 kicks this year, including a 33-yarder with two seconds remaining that gave the Gamecocks their 37-35 win over Missouri. His 84 points this season put him in the top 10 of single-season scoring seasons in USC history. Who would have thought that would happen a year ago? Jaycee Horn The true freshman defensive back started nine games this year not because injuries left South Carolina shorthanded but because he was one of the best defensive backs on the team the minute he got to campus. Horn finished the regular season with 39 tackles, eight pass breakups and a sack. The son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn could be a first-team All-SEC cornerback next year. He’s that good.
  3. Time to close the books and move on to Marshall Thundering Herd. Closing article on Georgia time to move on "Gap between USC & Georgia/Final report card on the Georgia game" The gap between USC and Georgia larger than Gamecocks want to admit September 09, 2018 After Saturday’s game against Georgia, South Carolina players insisted the gap between them and the Bulldogs isn’t as wide as the scoreboard suggested. The problem is, Georgia had just spent the 60 minutes of the game suggesting strongly that it is. The No. 3 Bulldogs trounced the No. 24 Gamecocks 41-17 in front of 83,140 fans in Williams-Brice Stadium, winning their fourth straight in this series and signaling that more may be on the way. “Disappointed with how we played,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “Give Georgia credit, they have a good football team. We needed to play better, and that’s on me. Lot of ball to play, and we’ll look to improve.” While the Bulldogs improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC, South Carolina fell to 1-1 and 0-1 in the conference and was left to try to make sense of its worst home loss to Georgia since 1971. “I feel like everything that happened on our side of the ball had a lot to do with us,” Gamecocks middle linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “It was a dogfight. Those guys were good, but we’re just as good. On our side of the ball, it’s getting those guys to understand it’s a four-quarter game.” Brunson, the Gamecocks’ best defender and unquestioned leader, was visibly shaken after the game by the way South Carolina wilted in a third quarter during which it was outscored 21-0. The Gamecocks had more total yards in the first half than the Bulldogs (191-183), but Georgia’s first three drives of the second half resulted in 236 yards and 21 points. Sandwiched between those drives were two three-and-outs from the South Carolina offense. “We just didn’t have our best day,” safety Steven Montac said. “They aren’t any better than us. They just executed.” That’s what South Carolina’s players have to say, what they have to believe, but it’s not what happened on the field. Take Mecole Hardman, for example. Georgia’s sophomore wide receiver, a former five-star recruit, had six catches for 103 yards and one carry for 30 yards on plays that were no more schematically complex than, “Throw it over there to Hardman and watch him run past South Carolina defenders.” Since Georgia coach Kirby Smart was hired, the Bulldogs have finished No. 6, No. 3 and No. 1 in 247Sports’ composite national recruiting rankings. Their projected class of 2019 is ranked No. 1 at the moment, too. When left tackle Andrew Thomas left in the third quarter with what appeared to be a leg injury, he was replaced by Cade Mays. That’s five-star recruit Cade Mays, who last year spurned his home-state Tennessee Vols to sign with Georgia. When starting quarterback Jake Fromm was pulled after three quarters, the Bulldogs brought in their backup quarterback. That’s Justin Fields, a five-star recruit who was one of the most coveted players in the nation a year ago. Etc., etc., etc. “Give our kids credit, they fought their butts off,” Muschamp said. “We just got whipped. We got moved off the line of scrimmage, and we didn’t tackle as well as we needed to.” “Whipped” is the stinging part of that sentence. Here’s the real problem: This was supposed to be the year to catch the Bulldogs in the midst of retooling. Georgia isn’t as good as it was a year ago, but the next time the Gamecocks see the Bulldogs, they might be better. That’s not something South Carolina’s players wanted to think about Saturday evening, and it’s not something they have to worry about the rest of the season. The challenge now will be to put this disappointment behind them and prepare for the next 10 games. “We have it on our wristbands — Every Week’s A Season,” said junior wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who had a career-best two touchdown catches. “That’s the motto of our team win, lose or draw. We are going to come in Sunday, make the corrections and move on to Marshall.” USC-Georgia report card: Poor marks for Gamecocks’ first loss After South Carolina football’s 41-17 loss to No. 3, it’s time to grade the Gamecocks. Quarterbacks Jake Bentley had moments when he seemed to be stringing things together. But there weren’t enough of those moments, and for the Gamecocks to compete with the likes of Georgia, he needed to be special. He wasn’t near that level. Grade: D+ Running backs They almost escaped the same grade as QBs because the offensive line had so many issues. But in addition to a slew of issues, Rico Dowdle had the drop that produced a pick-six. Grade: F Wide receivers The drops were an issue and there weren’t that many big plays. But generally when the ball got there, they helped move the chains. Bryan Edwards had a big play in garbage time. Grade: C+ Tight ends The group contributed a few nice first-down catches from Kiel Pollard and KC Crosby. But they were also involved in the blocking game, and that was an issue. Grade: D- Offensive line Will Muschamp literally opened his postgame by saying the group got whipped. They couldn’t open many big holes. Bentley faced a decent amount of pressure. Not a banner day. Grade: F Defensive line There were a couple sacks in there and a few plays that popped. Granted, the front got pushed around pretty badly. Grade: D Linebackers The talent level of Georgia forces back-seven defenders to be more perfect. USC’s players couldn’t do it. Georgia backs got to the edge a lot. Grade: F Defensive backs USC gave up a 15-for-18 day to Jake Fromm. The defensive backs didn’t seem very notable in run support. There was also Jaycee Horn blowing an assignment and giving up a massive gain. Grade: F Special teams The was a little good, a little bad and a lot of incomplete. Good: Getting all touchbacks on kickoffs, hitting a field goal, most of the punting. Bad: A shanked punt that helped turn the game. Incomplete: The Gamecocks were held without a punt or kick return from the game. Grade: C- Overall This was supposed to be, if not an upset, at least respectable. It was not. The Gamecocks seemed to wane late after getting back in the game. They were facing an absurdly talented team, but in a similar spot last year on the road, the Gamecocks at least stayed close. Grade: D-
  4. South Carolina safety Javon Charleston reinstated to team September 04, 2018 South Carolina safety Javon Charleston has been reinstated to the team following suspension, head coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday. “His case has been thoroughly investigated,” Muschamp said. “I met with him on Sunday and discussed his situation at length. As long as he enters his pre-trial intervention, handles his business and handles some business I have for him as well, then we will decide at that time about playing time.” Muschamp would not say if Charleston would be available to play Saturday against No. 3 Georgia. “That hasn’t been decided,” he said. Charleston, who was listed as a starter leaving spring practice, was arrested in June and charged with assault and battery and burglary after an incident involving a former girlfriend. Those charges could now be dropped, Charleston’s attorney told The State. “We are pleased to announce Javon has been accepted into Pre-Trial Intervention,” Neal Lourie said in a statement released to the paper last week. After starting his career as a walk-on wide receiver, Charleston was moved to the secondary and earned a scholarship. He has 16 career tackles. He has not practiced with the team during his suspension. South Carolina safety Nick Harvey will miss the first half against Georgia after being ejected for targeting last week against Coastal Carolina.
  5. Gamecocks are ranked in the coaches poll for the first time since 2014 Sept. 04, 2018 Last season, the South Carolina football team briefly appeared in the College Football Playoff rankings. But it never made the AP or coaches poll. That changed Tuesday. The Gamecocks debuted at No. 25 in the Week 2 coaches poll after starting the season one spot out of the rankings. It’s the first time they appeared in that poll since Sept. 21, 2014, when South Carolina was No. 15. USC opened the 2018 season with a 49-15 victory against Coastal Carolina. Next up is Georgia at 3:30 in Williams-Brice Stadium on CBS. full rankings below TOP 25 TEAMS, WEEK 2 RANK TEAM RECORD POINTS 1st Place Votes Prev CHANGE Hi/Low 1 Alabama 1-0 1571 59 1 – 1/1 2 Clemson 1-0 1498 3 2 – 2/2 3 Georgia 1-0 1414 0 4 1 3/4 4 Ohio State 1-0 1398 1 3 -1 3/4 5 Oklahoma 1-0 1312 0 5 – 5/5 6 Wisconsin 1-0 1249 0 7 1 6/7 7 Auburn 1-0 1219 0 10 3 7/10 8 Notre Dame 1-0 1077 0 11 3 8/11 9 Stanford 1-0 909 0 13 4 9/13 10 Penn State 1-0 893 0 9 -1 9/10 11 Washington 0-1 800 0 6 -5 6/11 12 Southern California 1-0 766 0 15 3 12/15 13 Michigan State 1-0 733 0 12 -1 12/13 14 Virginia Tech 1-0 730 0 17 3 14/17 15 Louisiana State 1-0 724 0 24 9 15/24 16 Texas Christian 1-0 699 0 16 – 16/16 17 West Virginia 1-0 612 0 20 3 17/20 18 Mississippi State 1-0 531 0 18 – 18/18 19 Boise State 1-0 362 0 22 3 19/22 20 Central Florida 1-0 339 0 23 3 20/23 21 Miami 0-1 277 0 8 -13 8/21 22 Michigan 0-1 227 0 14 -8 14/22 23 Oklahoma State 1-0 225 0 25 2 23/25 24 South Carolina 1-0 189 0 NR 2 24/NR 25 Florida 1-0 138 0 NR 2 25/NR
  6. Will Muschamp discusses status of transfers Josh Belk, Jamel Cook August 29, 2018 South Carolina added a pair of key defensive transfers this month when they brought in former Clemson defensive tackle Josh Belk and former Southern California defensive back Jamel Cook. However, coach Will Muschamp said he still doesn’t know much about the status of either player and when they’ll be eligible to play during the latest SEC Coaches’ Teleconference. I don’t have any updates. I was hoping for one during game week, but I got nothing, I’m not sure. We’ve turned in everything, they have a review committee. … That’s the process we are in right now. If the Gamecocks could add either player, or both, this season, it would certainly provide a boost to their defense. Muschamp discussed several other topics during the teleconference. Here’s an overview: On the Carolina script helmets: That’s something we talked about this offseason and I was all for it. I talked to our seniors and we decided to put that Carolina script on it. … The players like it, as long as they are for it, I’m in favor of it. On the plan to use his running backs: We have, we have looked at it as a staff. We will let it play out on the field and we’ll see how the game goes.
  7. The technique Marcus Lattimore is teaching South Carolina’s running backs August 21, 2018 THE STATE Marcus Lattimore isn’t allowed to provide on-field coaching to South Carolina’s football players, but there’s nothing to stop him from passing along some of his knowledge in other settings. That’s what Gamecocks running backs coach Bobby Bentley has asked Lattimore to do about something very specific this season. There are certainly worse people to ask for advice in the area. Lattimore is the school’s sixth-leading rusher of all-time, gaining 2,677 yards and scoring a school-record 38 rushing touchdowns from 2010-2012. Bentley coached at Byrnes High School, where Lattimore starred before coming to South Carolina, from 1995 through 2006 (and then again for a later stint). Lattimore became South Carolina’s director of player development for football in the offseason, a role that puts him in charge of the team’s Beyond Football program and in contact with the players on a daily basis. “There’s nothing wrong with him talking to the running backs on the way to the practice field,” Bentley said. “As far as on-field coaching he doesn’t do any but he’s always around mentoring the guys. Lattimore was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year after helping the Gamecocks to the 2010 SEC East title and an appearance in the SEC championship game, and one the big reasons for all that success is what Bentley calls his “torpedo technique,” which is what he has asked him to pass along to Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, A.J. Turner and the rest of South Carolina’s running backs. “Torpedo, where you just lunge through Marcus Lattimore-style. Marcus was the best at the torpedo technique,” Bentley said. “We got Marcus in the running back room and went back all the way to his freshman year. A big one he did against LSU and we showed the clip to get them to understand – get your shoulders narrow and get in the hole and get the first down.” Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article216880340.html#storylink=cpy Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article216880340.html#storyli Lattimore was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year after helping the Gamecocks to the 2010 SEC East title and an appearance in the SEC championship game, and one the big reasons for all that success is what Bentley calls his “torpedo technique,” which is what he has asked him to pass along to Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, A.J. Turner and the rest of South Carolina’s running backs. “Torpedo, where you just lunge through Marcus Lattimore-style. Marcus was the best at the torpedo technique,” Bentley said. “We got Marcus in the running back room and went back all the way to his freshman year. A big one he did against LSU and we showed the clip to get them to understand – get your shoulders narrow and get in the hole and get the first down. Lattimore was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year after helping the Gamecocks to the 2010 SEC East title and an appearance in the SEC championship game, and one the big reasons for all that success is what Bentley calls his “torpedo technique,” which is what he has asked him to pass along to Rico Dowdle, Ty’Son Williams, A.J. Turner and the rest of South Carolina’s running backs. “Torpedo, where you just lunge through Marcus Lattimore-style. Marcus was the best at the torpedo technique,” Bentley said. “We got Marcus in the running back room and went back all the way to his freshman year. A big one he did against LSU and we showed the clip to get them to understand – get your shoulders narrow and get in the hole and get the first down.” Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article216880340.html#storylink=cpy ” Read more here: https://www.thestate.com/sports/college/university-of-south-carolina/usc-football/josh-kendall-blog/article216880340.html#storylink=cpy nk=cpy
  8. USC’s offense pays steep price every time the defense creates a turnover in fall camp August 18, 2018 If turnovers are the Bible of South Carolina’s defense, they end up meaning lots of penance for the offense. The Gamecocks were one of the best teams in the country last season at taking the ball away from opponents, and head coach Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson and players are constantly talking about how they want to keep that up in 2018. In fall camp, it’s been the mission of USC’s offense to make that very, very hard. Last year, the Gamecocks weren’t quite as good at limiting turnovers as they were at creating them, and the offensive coaching staff has since implemented some punishments to remind players that giving the ball away will not be tolerated. For the running backs, that includes failing to protect the quarterback, and there’s a simple system for those who fail to do so. “We got this thing we do every day after practice — five pushups for a missed assignment, three crossfields for a fumble,” junior running back Rico Dowdle said. For the quarterbacks, the punishment is up to the imagination of offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, with one caveat — whoever commits a turnover is immediately pulled from the drill or practice. “That’s kinda his big thing. If you can’t hold onto the ball, protect the ball, you’re coming out,” junior quarterback Jake Bentley said. “So that’s the main thing, and then whether it be up-downs at the end of practice or extra sprints or something, whatever coach B-Mac can think of.” The approach has worked, Bentley said, as the defense came out firing this preseason, only to have the offense up its game as of late. “Beginning of fall camp, they really brought it to us and (senior safety Steven) Montac especially does a great job of coming in and getting the ball off of people,” Bentley said. “I think we’ve gotten better at it through scrimmages and through each practice.” Still, while South Carolina’s offensive personnel and staff would love to go turnover-less for the rest of camp, the obvious catch is that whenever the defense does succeed in taking the ball, it’s an indication it can do so once the season starts and the games and opponents matter. Bentley recognizes that, and it helps temper any frustrations he feels when giveaways do occur. “You gotta understand that the defense is going to make some plays too. Obviously each and every day you want to come out and not have any turnovers or any bad plays, but there’s a lot of great athletes over there too, a lot of smart players with some of the best coaches in the nation on defense. So it’s a challenge every day to go against them,” he said. THE STATE

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