David Cloninger

USC CAMP INSIDER: Keeping things simple key to Hoke improving defense

Jon Hoke’s biggest change thus far has been to get back to the 4-3 base defense. South Carolina used the 4-3 last year, but alternated between that and the 3-4 look it installed in the spring and preseason.

But it wasn’t the scheme that led to the Gamecocks’ dour defense.

“We put it on ourselves, missing tackles, not doing what our coach tells us to do, doing our own thing out there,” spur T.J. Gurley said. “We just got to get back to those things that coach Hoke tells us to do.”

Gurley echoed what several defenders have said during the first week of camp. Yes, the 3-4 look that was worked on and then shredded by Texas A&M played a part in last year’s showing, but a tiny part. Mostly it was players not doing what they were being counted on to do – it wasn’t scheme that allowed a guy like Kentucky’s JoJo Kemp, so tired his teammates were having to pick him up for the next play, to bowl over the Gamecocks’ front.

Players are taking responsibility for last year and Hoke has kept his plans basic.

There won’t be any confusion on what’s supposed to happen, for sure.

“We’ve got a little more simpler-type scheme I think, with the safety back there most of the time,” Steve Spurrier said. “But the guys know what to do, it’s not complicated. So when they know what to do, they should have a better chance to execute their assignment.”