Josh Kendall

Jeff Dillman says Gamecocks offseason work is ‘scary’

Philadelphia’s dramatic win over New England in Super Bowl LII provided more than one of the most memorable final games in NFL history. It provided a great teaching point for South Carolina strength coach Jeff Dillman.

The Gamecocks are a little more than halfway through their Fourth Quarter Program offseason conditioning workouts, and Dillman has found himself mentioning again and again Eagles defensive lineman Brandon Graham forcing a fourth quarter fumble by Tom Brady to help seal Philly’s Super Bowl victory.

“Just to explain to them why we do what we do,” Dillman said. “This is why we do what we do. This is what we’re putting in the tank right now so when it comes time in the fourth quarter, you’re straining through adversity.”

The time from the beginning of the year until the start of spring practice is the most physically demanding part of the calendar for South Carolina’s football program because of the Fourth Quarter Program, which includes grueling early morning cardio workouts and weight room work, among other things.

“I’m just telling you, the whole team is very consistent, and they’re working their butts off,” Dillman said. “It’s scary. We have a good group of guys. I really like these guys. We had a good group of guys last year, but these guys now have been in the system and pretty much everybody on the team are guys we brought in.”

When asked for names of standouts, Dillman mentioned quarterback Jake Bentley and defensive linemen D.J. Wonnum, Javon Kinlaw, Shameik Blackshear and Keir Thomas, but he emphasized he was happy with the entire group’s effort.

“From a buy-in standpoint with the total team, I’m pretty excited,” Dillman said. “I’m pretty excited to see where this thing goes and how far they can go with it. The early morning workouts, it was freezing cold outside and not one time did one person complain.”

The Gamecocks are now in their third turn through Dillman and head coach Will Muschamp’s offseason conditioning program, and Dillman can see a stark difference between this year and the first year, he said.

“Everybody looks a lot faster. Everybody looks a lot more comfortable with the system,” he said.

The fourth quarter program will end on Feb. 26, two days before the Gamecocks begin spring practice.

“I’m happy, but I’m not satisfied,” Dillman said. “I am always expecting more from all of them. You can’t ever get comfortable because as soon as you get comfortable apathy sets in and you stop working.”