David Cloninger

Cloninger Soundoff: USC running game sputters

Sharrod Golightly tackles Mike Davis during South Carolina's scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Sharrod Golightly tackles Mike Davis during South Carolina's scrimmage Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, at Williams-Brice Stadium. dmclemore@thestate.com

It was just a scrimmage, and USC typically likes to air it out more in a scrimmage than it does in a game. Still, the Gamecocks’ powerful rushing attack was shut down by an aggressive defense on Saturday.

It was supposed to be the opposite. USC’s defensive linemen wouldn’t be able to get past a sturdy offensive line or get a handle on Mike Davis, Brandon Wilds and Shon Carson. If those guys broke past the second level, might as well blow the whistle because the secondary surely wouldn’t catch them.

Instead, Davis, Carson and Wilds rushed for a combined 16 yards. Lorenzo Ward’s linemen and linebackers were swarming them, pushing the O-line back and finding gaps. Jordan Diggs made the crowd gasp when he rang up Davis with a lid-to-lid shot.

It was great for a defense expected to struggle early to look so feisty. It wasn’t great to see the line, one of the best in USC history by experience, get strung out and spaced so that defenders were finding holes quicker than the backs.

But as Steve Spurrier said, the Gamecocks don’t need to be too good right now. The defense is looking much better than expected, and they know the running game will always be there. After the first week of camp, USC feels very comfortable where it is.

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