David Cloninger

Camp Insider: USC defense looking better, but don’t get carried away yet

The Gamecocks practice Saturday.
The Gamecocks practice Saturday. mbergen@thestate.com

South Carolina’s revamped defense looks a little ahead of the offense right now. That’s good news for folks who watched the defense last year.

But hold the praise right there.

“I’m cautious because of last year. Last year they clobbered us about like this,” coach Steve Spurrier said after Saturday’s open practice. “I remember all you guys were saying … said, ‘We don’t have to worry about the run defense this year! I saw the scrimmage.’ ”

The Gamecocks stuffed the run pretty well in camp last year, although they had some problems with the pass. Still, Lorenzo Ward’s 3-4 alignment seemed to be working pretty well.

Many of us ignored Ward’s warnings – too many big plays. Too many third downs where USC was staying on the field.

Then came Texas A&M.

The Aggies’ domination began a year of defensive futility. Changes had to be made, in personnel and scheme.

So if Jon Hoke and Company are looking pretty good right now (and even without linebackers Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton on Saturday), pump the brakes.

“These scrimmages don’t mean a lot. They don’t mean a lot except trying to find out who you can count on to go play,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully our players will understand that. Maybe they didn’t understand that last year.”