USC Gamecocks Football

September 4, 2014

Practice report: Defensive changes aplenty for Gamecocks

Just as Shawn Elliott did on Wednesday, Lorenzo Ward announced several changes on Thursday.

Just as Shawn Elliott did on Wednesday, Lorenzo Ward announced several changes on Thursday.

“Skai (Moore) will go back and start at will linebacker, T.J. Gurley will start for Chaz Elder at (free) safety, Rico (McWilliams) will start at corner and possibly, depending on David (Johnson), how his toe is, he could start at end for Darius (English), but that remains to be seen,” No. 21 South Carolina’s defensive coordinator listed after his squad gave up a school-record 680 yards last week. “Rico will start over Al (Harris), and if Brison (Williams) is not ready to go, then Rico and Al will start.”

The personnel switches may help but the biggest focus was the little things. Tackling, wrapping up, covering in space and pursuit angles were emphasized this week.

“We had 17 opportunities on third down and I think 10 of those were 5 yards or more, and we just had an opportunity to get off the field and didn’t make the play,” Ward said. “We couldn’t generate a pass-rush and then we couldn’t cover them in the perimeter.”

“We all know we didn’t play as good as we expected to,” Williams said on Tuesday. “We gave up close to 700 yards. We really didn’t like that.”

Not again

Williams should be able to play. He bruised his forearm in a field-goal rush situation and has been limited in practice.

He was in a yellow jersey on Thursday but did some light running and covering during pass skeletons.

Williams has had issues with his arm since 2011. He broke it during camp that season and missed the first four games, then cracked a bone in the forearm last year and missed the Coastal Carolina game.

Sticking with it

The 3-4 base alignment drew criticism last week but Ward will still use it. He’s also trying to shore up the cushions his defensive backs gave receivers.

“We’re definitely going to play 3-4 and we’ll play some 4-2-5,” Ward said. “When you play with young guys, you never want to make a guy do something he’s not comfortable doing. If he’s not comfortable pressing, then we’re not going to do that.”

Going up

The new practice fields behind Gamecock Park are moving right along in anticipation of being ready by mid-October. One-third of the center film tower was installed on Thursday and two goalposts have been erected.

HOFer

Newly inducted athletic hall-of-famer Landon Powell will be the celebrity starter for Saturday’s game.

Switch

As Steve Spurrier said they would, the Gamecocks will wear garnet jerseys and white pants for Saturday’s game. Spurrier said that he wanted to do something different for non-conference games.

Injury report

Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Williams, TE K.C. Crosby (right foot), DE Blake McClain (foot), DE Devin Washington (hamstring), OL Mike Matulis (left knee), CB Jamari Smith (left foot) and OL Donell Stanley (wrist).

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