Jabril Cox and the LSU defense needed those extra few days. When the announcement was made official that the Tigers' game with Florida was postponed, Cox and his fellow teammates immediately turned attention to one goal, simplifying the defense.
It was something that coach Ed Orgeron had talked about earlier in the week in a meeting with defensive coordinator Bo Pelini. Miscommunications, missed assignments and tackling were all to be addressed over the coming days and with no game to prepare for, the purple and gold's focus only heightened.
So what were some of the adjustments made? First of all, there isn't nearly as much presnap movement according to Cox. The team has also spent the last few days designating specific assignments for each player to avoid confusion.
"To simplify it, we just have a lot of guys staying in one spot regardless of how the formation is," Cox said. "We're matching numbers this week, they have a pretty good receiver in No. 13 so we'll be matching him with some of our better corners. It's a lot of simpler things to not confuse check wise, whether it's pre snap and post snap."
The performance through three weeks is not something the players take lightly as the Tigers rank No. 71 in total defense out of a possible 76 teams. The 494 yards per game and 96 points through three games are the most the program has allowed in the first three games in program history.
That's not the LSU standard of performance that Orgeron preaches to the players and is something Cox said the team is working tirelessly on rectifying.
"It's all about us the players because we haven't really been playing to the LSU standard. We're taking it among ourselves to show that the scheme really works," Cox said.
The preparation for the Gamecocks is a bit different than past weeks as the Tigers figure to see their first pro style offense of the 2020 season. South Carolina's offensive gameplan is centered around the run game, with plenty of I-formation and 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends).
Running back Kevin Harris is the primary running back South Carolina will throw at the LSU defense as he is No. 3 in the SEC in rushing yards with 409 through four games and six touchdowns.
"With those extra weeks we had a lot of time to rest up and prepare for South Carolina. They run 12 and 21 personnel, something we haven't seen a lot of this season," Cox said. "That's one of the main things that we're focused on is stopping the run. They have a pretty good running back and two tight ends that they use. Our d-linemen penetrating up front and then us linebackers filling should get the job done."
One of the issues with this team has been the youth and inexperience at all three levels of the defense. Many starters, particularly in the secondary, are earning valuable reps but taking their fair share of punches along the way.
As part of the learning process, the players have spent an increased amount of time in the film room over the last week. It’s something punter Zach Von Rosenberg talked about on Tuesday and was echoed by Cox.
Building those pregame preparation habits is what made last year’s team so special and is something this 2020 squad is still learning how to do.
"We've had extra film sessions before and after practice just learning different schemes so we can really focus on the basics,” Cox said. “Every program is different but this program, the coaches they do a good job of developing guys and getting us ready. I think this past loss is on the players. We're trying to come together and reach a common goal."