Josh Kendall

There’s still something missing from Gamecocks defensive line

A lot of things are said during the lead up to football season. Coaches and players answer varieties of the same question with a variety of the same answer in most cases. The trick is finding the important stuff in all that noise.

Here’s something that South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said Thursday while discussing a variety of topics that might be important: “We are not a fast twitch team up front.”

He was talking about the defensive front, and that’s not a good thing. “Fast twitch” is today’s catch phrase for explosive, players with a fast first step. In many ways, it’s the most important trait a pass rusher can have. For the epitome of “fast twitch,” think Jadeveon Clowney, whose first step at the snap is as fast as anybody in football in a generation.

Defensive coaches, and offensive coaches but especially defensive coaches, want fast twitch players. Muschamp arrived in South Carolina and quickly deduced he didn’t have enough of them. In the long term, that problem can only be fixed through recruiting. In the short term, the Gamecocks are trying to remedy it with flexibility.

That’s why we’ve seen defensive end Marquavius Lewis working on the inside some this fall. It’s why Dante Sawyer is working his way into more playing time.

“He has certainly been a guy who has shown a little twitch on the edge and the ability to rush the passer,” Muschamp said.

Rushing the passer has been a problem for South Carolina of late. Coaching and schemes can help. Faster twitch will help more.