South Carolina’s new staff isn’t blind. It knows it isn’t taking over a team that has a stocked cupboard of talented players.
There’s nothing the coaches can do about what they don’t have. They’ll work as hard as they can to make the guys they do have be successful. Then they’ll start adding more talent.
“I ain’t making excuses about what we don’t have around here,” defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said Tuesday. “Right now, we’re going to work with the guys we got. That’s how we’re going to go about our business.”
Robinson and coach Will Muschamp haven’t sugarcoated anything, even in spring practice. Muschamp said Monday the secondary in particular is light years away from where it needs to be, lacking toughness and fundamentals. That’s not breaking news to anyone who’s watched the Gamecocks’ defense the past two seasons.
They’ll try to repair it as best they can. New systems and terminology are being constructed to try and take advantage of what the Gamecocks have. The spring is about learning what they want to do, the fall is implementing it, seeing how it works and tweaking it into the best it can be.
“Ain’t nothing we tell you guys that we don’t tell them,” Robinson said. “That’s one thing we tell our kids – ‘Just know who you are.’ Right now, this is the standard that we have for you guys, and we ain’t meeting it.
“We ain’t down on the guys – they understand what they need to do to get better. They watch the same tape we watch and we correct it every single day and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Muschamp said the secondary is going to be a weak spot. That could be overcome with a consistent pass rush, something that’s been lacking the past two years. Robinson said he feels the Gamecocks will have the personnel to muster consistent pressure, but they’ll have to be careful – Muschamp is always keeping an eye on his big linemen.
Eight or so snaps in a row and big men are gassed for the day, and there’s no getting it back. Constant rotation can battle that, but obviously some rushers will be better than others.
“We can probably play more than that,” tackle Taylor Stallworth said. “It’s all based off the defensive line. How we perform, that’s how the defense will be.”
The preference will be to have 10-12 linemen that can rotate and hopefully create some kind of pressure. While it’s difficult to do in the era of the spread offense and quick releases, USC has to make the QB uncomfortable – anything but pick apart the secondary like many opponents have the past two years.
It won’t be easy. While Muschamp and his staff can improve technique and tackling, the talent didn’t get better. But like Robinson said, USC is who it is. The Gamecocks aren’t going to offer any excuses about players they don’t have.
“One thing we got to keep working on is our effort. That’s one of the things that we’ve kind of been hitting on all spring and our guys are improving on that,” he said. “If we continue to do that, and continue to get the scheme down, then we’re going to be fine.”
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