Much has been said about South Carolina’s defense this week, about whether Jadeveon Clowney will play, will not play, play if he wants to, play if he’s able, etc. Not many seem to be talking about the other glaring issue for the Gamecocks’ defense – is anybody going to be able to play their best in the fourth quarter?
Steve Spurrier declared that the time has long since passed where USC needs to examine its defensive starters. The common theme during Spurrier’s nine-year tenure has been that if one player isn’t producing, the next guy is cycled in, and on defense, the Gamecocks desperately need something to happen before it’s too late.
The last three games have all been wins, and all looked to be comfortable wins at some point by the third quarter. The fourth quarters have seen the opponent score 15, 15 and 21 to make those games much closer than they should have been.
Whether it’s letting receivers catch passes and skirt the edges, or leaving the assignment to try and make a big play, or simply missing the tackle, the Gamecocks have not gotten it done.
Spurrier and secondary coach Grady Brown said there are changes on the horizon, but wouldn’t say specifically what they might be. I’m not sure how much they can actually change for the better, if and when they do – outside of the defensive line, youth is backing up youth or inexperience is backing up veterans.
In the linebacker corps, it’s cycling out one newbie for another. At spur, Jordan Diggs and the recently converted Larenz Bryant are behind Sharrod Golightly for a reason. Has Golightly been lacking enough to try one of the other two?
In the secondary, is it worth it to bench a player like Victor Hampton, who has made some mistakes but has next-level talent? The other options are Ahmad Christian, Jamari Smith and Rico McWilliams, all who are still finding their way. Is Chaz Elder a realistic option over junior Brison Williams?
Playing a run-based team like Arkansas may help cover the wounds. If not, the drawing board doesn’t have too much open space left on it.
Follow on Twitter at @DCTheState