Most South Carolina fans probably noticed a Gamecocks staff member holding up a large sign board reading “3rd down” at appropriate times when the defense was on the field last season. They probably noticed because that staff member jumps up and down the entire time he’s holding the sign.
South Carolina’s defensive coaches are hoping the player’s notice, too, and not just that, but play better in those situations.
“Obviously, we have to get better on third down,” Gamecocks defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said. “Sometimes guys on the field don’t know it’s third down. That should never happen.”
Head coach Will Muschamp suggested the sideline board after some players seemed unaware of the down during practice situations.
“You have to have your head in the game,” Robinson said. “Everybody on the sideline should know. Everybody in the stands should know. It is third down, we have to get off the field.”
South Carolina was ninth in the SEC and 76th in the nation in third down defense last year, allowing a conversion rate of 39.8 percent. The Gamecocks were 11th in the conference in conversions allowed at 76.
For Robinson, that means 76 agonizing missed opportunities to get off the field.
“I have never seen anything bad happen to the defense when we were sitting on the sideline,” he said. “The only time stuff happens bad is when we’re out there. We have to get off the field on third down.”
One result of that failure was the fact that the Gamecocks defense faced 924 plays last year, which ranked 10th in the SEC and 90th in the nation.