David Cloninger

USC designing a defense to fit the talent

If nothing else, they’re going to know what they’re supposed to do.

“If you know what to do, you got a chance to play fast,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said on Friday. “We’re throwing a lot on them, every single day, and we ain’t going to back off these guys.”

There are a few philosophies being installed in the first week of camp, but mostly it’s about teaching the Gamecocks how they’re supposed to play. The buzzwords “energy,” “intensity” and “focus” have been mainstays of post-practice interviews, no matter the subject.

Robinson and the South Carolina staff know they weren’t handed a rose garden with the Gamecocks’ defense, which has spent the last two years pointing at the open spaces on the field. Opposing quarterbacks were only too happy to fill those gaps.

The defense often seemed like it didn’t know what to do. A shift in scheme mid-season, then a shift in coordinators didn’t help. A lack of talent completed the trifecta.

T-Rob and Company didn’t come in and say, “Let’s do this.” It’s more feeling out what they have and designing a defense to fit that talent.

But what they have to have, and what they’re coaching to have, is knowledge. Players can’t freelance, running willy-nilly all over the field. So they’re tearing down the lingering splinters of the last two defenses.

“Every day, we’re installing,” Robinson said. “If you don’t get the install today, tomorrow, we ain’t gonna not install. We’re going to install again.”

It’s not building from the ground up.

It’s building from the head down.

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