South Carolina defensive coordinator Jon Hoke’s unit is third in the SEC in interceptions with nine so far this season, but linebackers have accounted for seven of the picks. Carolina cornerback Chris Lammons is hoping he can help the defensive backs even out that number during the final five games of the season.
Lammons recorded his first career interception Saturday against Vanderbilt and believes that more are on the way. He has battled injuries throughout the year but has played each of the past three weeks.
The Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native said he feels fully healthy and ready to contribute moving forward.
“I feel comfortable coming back into the rotation coming off of injury,” Lammons said. “Coach (Jon) Hoke puts you in good position to make plays.”
Lammons appeared set to have a breakout season after starting the last seven games of 2014. He earned a starting job for South Carolina’s opener against UNC and finished second on the team in tackles despite suffering an injury in the fourth quarter. He was unable to return to the game and also missed the next three contests against Kentucky, Georgia and UCF.
“It was hard. I was ready to make a big time statement this year then after the first game got injured,” he said. “I’m coming back as strong as I can and trying to help my team as much as I can.”
The sophomore said it was particularly rough watching the Gamecocks allow Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert to set an NCAA record for completion percentage against USC’s defense.
“I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get back out there and make some plays. I’ve got to get back out there and stop quarterbacks from completing these passes that look so easy,’” he said. “The fans and everybody were making a big deal about our corners getting caught on and stuff so I’ve got to step up for the team.”
In addition to battling an injury, Lammons also had the challenge of getting more comfortable with Hoke’s scheme. He said as the season has progressed the Gamecocks are understanding more and more what Hoke expects from his unit.
USC had its best defensive game of the season against the Commodores, forcing five turnovers and holding Vandy quarterback Johnny McCrary to 177 passing yards on 42 attempts. He entered the game averaging 250 passing yards per game.
“It’s taken some time, different technique and different plays, a lot of blitzes. It’s kind of different from last year, but everybody adapted to it pretty quick,” Lammons said. “Over the spring since Coach Hoke was here, he pushed us harder, harder, harder just to get the defense right. I think it’s coming along.”