Newest Gamecocks coach excited to be in SEC, breaks down his group
South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp will tell anyone who asks about his defensive line.
After three seasons of throwing in newcomers often out of need more than anything else, he and his staff believe they have all the pieces for an SEC defensive line that boasts the depth he wants, potentially three deep at every spot.
But that leads to another question, how does a staff manage that? Is there a rotation at the start? This guy gets two drives, someone else the next two? Or is it more about feel and flow of the game?
“It’s a little bit of both,” defensive line coach John Scott said. “I think you go in a game with a number kind of in your mind.... You kind of have somebody helping you count the reps that somebody is getting. It’s a feel thing too, if it’s one of those games where you’ve got to have your best, best guys the whole time, you’ve got to navigate how to get other guys in because you’ve got to give them a blow sometimes as fast as offenses are going.”
The word he came back to was freshness, keeping everyone fresh enough so that if the best guys need to be out there late, they have enough in the tank for that
This year, South Carolina’s defense was on the field for 92 or more plays twice, 82 or more four times and 77 or more plays seven times. In 2017, before USC installed an up-tempo offense, an opposing offense got to 77 plays only three times.
At the moment, this is an approximation of what South Carolina’s depth could look like:
Buck: D.J. Wonnum/Brad Johnson/Rodricus Fitten
Defensive tackle: Javon Kinlaw/Rick Sandidge/Zacch Pickens/Jabari Ellis
Defensive tackle: Kobe Smith/Keir Thomas/Devontae Davis
Defensive end: Aaron Sterling/Kingsley Enagbare/Joseph Anderson
That’s not to say everyone will play a full role, as linemen can sometimes get lost in the mix (Ellis hardly played last year, but Muschamp was high on his spring performance). But in theory, the Gamecocks could be rolling bodies.
USC took a step back last season in terms of work up front against the run, and the pass rush lagged as well.
There’s a good bit of talent in there, but the question remains, can strength in numbers add something else as the Gamecocks look to bounce back.
“One of the things that I’ve learned as a coach, and especially coaching the front, the deeper you are, the better you are,” Scott said. “So instead of a guy playing 50 snaps a game, he’s giving you 30-35 high-rep quality snaps, which means in the fourth quarter, most people don’t really sub their O-line, so you’re wearing them out. So I think that’s a huge, huge deal.”