South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier and defensive coordinator Jon Hoke vowed that changes were on the way after the Gamecocks were blown out Saturday night by Georgia. Some of the moves began taking shape Tuesday.
Junior linebacker T.J. Holloman is expected to start at Mike linebacker this week against UCF after coming on in reserve and playing at Sam linebacker against the Bulldogs. Skai Moore, USC’s defensive leader, is moving to Will.
Hoke said he was impressed by what he saw from Holloman against Georgia and feels like the Stone Mountain, Ga., native has earned more playing time.
“He played Sam the last game, did a good, did his job, played hard,” Hoke said. “He had some good run fits for us. He’s an experienced guy. He’s played, so we’re excited to see him.”
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Holloman said the biggest difference between playing Mike linebacker as opposed to Sam is making calls, but he feels comfortable after practicing at Mike all summer.
“The only thing that’s different at Mike is you have to make all the calls, all the adjustments, and you’re really just commanding the defense,” he said. “That’s the hardest thing about Mike.”
In addition, there could be changes taking place in the secondary and on the defensive line. In particular, Hoke said he has been impressed by freshman defensive back Rashad Fenton. The Miami native has received extended playing time in the second half each of the past two weeks.
“He’s done a nice job,” Hoke said. “He’s really going to be a good player, we think. He’s got good athletic ability. He’s done his job.”
Cornerbacks Chris Lammons and Chaz Elder did not practice Tuesday with injuries, which could factor into who starts in the secondary on Saturday.
As far as the defensive line, Deke Adams was asked if he is looking at making depth chart changes and said there likely will be changes, but he isn’t ready to announce them yet.
“I’m not going to say who or anything yet because, if they’re not ready, then we’re not going to put them on the field,” he said. “We’re going to look at it throughout the week, and we’ll see as it gets closer to the end of the week.”
Adams pleased with pass rush
USC was not credited with a sack or quarterback hurry in Saturday’s game against Georgia, but Adams feels good about how his group is doing rushing the passer.
“We’ve gotten pressure on the guys, but the balls are coming out quick,” he said. “You look at last week, there were a lot of play-actions and max protections, and when they did keep five in to block, we feel like we did a decent job of getting there. But balls are coming out quicker than normal, and we’re just going to keep rushing. We’re getting more pressure now than we did in the past, last year.”
The Gamecocks have five sacks and three quarterback hurries in three games.
Carolina defensive end Cedrick Cooper said losing to the Bulldogs 52-20 has the Gamecocks working harder to try to turn things around.
“After receiving a butt-whooping like that, we’re pretty much humble and we need to know that what we’re doing right now isn’t good enough,” he said. “The effort that we’re giving as far as a defense isn’t good enough, and we need to step it up a notch.”
Cooper added that South Carolina’s defensive line needs to improve in two major areas.
“The most fixable is just winning our gaps and getting where we need to go in the right amount of time. You can’t delay and sit there and watch and try to see the play work out. We need to be there at the right time,” he said, adding that discipline also needs to be better. “When they tell you to stay in your gap, stay in your gap. Don’t try to spin out and make a super play and try to make all the plays. Just trust the guy next to you and do what you have to do.”
Players who were injured or wore yellow jerseys were: CB Chris Lammons (knee), RB Brandon Wilds (ribs), CB Chaz Elder (ribs), TE Connor Redmond (back), QB Gage Pucci (knee), SS Antoine Wilder (right knee sprain) and C Cody Waldrop (ankle). QB Connor Mitch (shoulder) is out 3-5 weeks and C Alan Knott (sprained left ankle) is out indefinitely. WR Shaq Davidson (knee) and WR Jerad Washington (left leg) are out for the season.
Staff writers David Cloninger and Josh Kendall contributed to this report.