Leading South Carolina in tackles this season is not important to T.J. Brunson.
Leading South Carolina in tackles this season is important to Skai Moore.
Still, Brunson, the Gamecocks sophomore middle linebacker, is not going to throw the race for Moore, his senior weakside counterpart.
“He’s going to have to earn it,” Brunson said.
“Yeah, I know it, too,” Moore replied. “I like that about him. Me and him are going to be competing and making a lot of tackles through the next couple games.”
South Carolina (6-3 overall, 4-3 SEC) takes on Florida (3-5, 3-4) at noon Saturday in Williams-Brice Stadium.
Brunson held South Carolina’s team lead in tackles through the first eight games of the year, but Moore’s 10-tackle effort against Georgia gave him his first lead of the season. It’s a narrow one, though, 67 stops for Moore, 66 for Brunson.
The reason the milestone has significance for Moore is he has a chance to do something only 14 players in college football history have done by leading his team in tackles for four seasons. He’s already done it from 2013-2015.
“Yeah, it does (mean something),” Moore said. “I don’t think too much on it, but it’s definitely something I pride myself in, to make as many tackles as possible.”
He acknowledged with a smile that he was informed after the Georgia game that he had taken the season lead for the first time. Brunson was aware Tuesday that Moore was one ahead of him and promised a race to the finish line in South Carolina’s final four games.
“I think we have to contend for those tackles,” Brunson said. “I just want to make sure I’m in the right spot, make sure everything is set the way it is supposed to be set and make the plays I’m supposed to make.”
Moore is proud of his accomplishment from the last three years because it points to consistency, he said. His best season was two years ago, when he recorded 111 tackles as a junior. He missed the 2016 season because of neck surgery.
“I guess it says I go out there week in and week out and try to do what I’m supposed to do and make as many plays as possible,” he said.
Together, Moore and Brunson have 22 percent of the Gamecocks’ 600 total tackles. Moore is tied for 11th in the SEC in tackles, while Brunson is 13th.
“They are instinctive players and guys who have made a lot of plays for us,” coach Will Muschamp said. “They play sideline to sideline. They give tremendous effort in the game. They erase a lot of (mistakes).”
“We just try to win,” Brunson said, “both of us have the same mindset kind of, just doing what we have to do to win.”
Who: USC (6-3, 4-3 SEC) vs. Florida (3-5, 3-4)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
Radio: 107.5 FM