David Cloninger

Gamecocks’ defense needs to start what it finishes

USC defensive end Darius English tackles quarterback Patrick Towles on Saturday
USC defensive end Darius English tackles quarterback Patrick Towles on Saturday The State

Leave it to South Carolina to reinvent a longtime cliché.

“We just need to start how we finish,” linebacker Jonathan Walton said, flipping the usual script.

He was right, of course. The Gamecocks’ defense was so bad in Saturday’s first half and so good in Saturday’s second half that folks were wondering if a fresh defense had been flown in. It wasn’t a slight adjustment; it was night and day.

Walton, Deke Adams and Lorenzo Ward said that it was simply a matter of playing hard, that the team perhaps relaxed a bit when its first defensive series became a blitz on Patrick Towles and an interception. The second half was about playing to potential, and USC did that, pitching its second consecutive second-half shutout.

Perhaps it’s the best way (outside of beating Kentucky, naturally). The Gamecocks dominated on defense in their last half of football, and they’ll need to do that again this week. A Heisman candidate tailback awaits between the hedges.

“We go back and look at the film, we know it was just simple things,” Adams said. “We trusted the system and trusted what we’re doing.”

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