Preparing For The Season: Defensive Overview
Will Muschamp has maintained his team will prepare as though the season will start on time.
During spring practices he and new defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson a number of specific goals they want to accomplish based on analytics.
As we come to the end of the summer, Gamecock Digest will break down areas of improvement and key players and factors that will help the Gamecocks to make those improvements.
Coming in, the defense has a number of voids to fill as several key player from last year’s team went to the NFL this year.
The Gamecocks lost senior defensive linemen Javon Kinlaw, Kobe Smith and DJ Wonnum, so identifying their replacements is a top priority.
Earlier this year after spring practice, defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson said he had high expectations for Zacch Pickens and Rick Sandidge.
He's also excited to have Keir Thomas back after medically redshirting Las season follow an infection to his surgically repaired ankle.
Kingsley "JJ" Enagbare is another name on that line that should see minutes and hopefully consistant production after showing flashes last year.
Robinson spoke on what he wants the team’s defensive identity to be.
"A blue collar mentality. I want our guys to be physical I want our guys to be able to stop the run first forcing them to be one dimensional and throw the football,” he said. “Then we need to do a better job of turnovers. You look at our first couple of years it was 28, 27 and then you look out the drop off over the next two years there was 17 16 something like that. You’re talking about 10 turnovers. That's 10 extra possessions for our offense, so that's a big emphasis right now. We need to get the football better we've been getting it good and we’ve got to continue to do that."
The Gamecocks have a number of defensive goals for the year that include holding teams to 16 points or less. To do that, Robinson said they're trying to eliminate explosive plays and hold teams to five yards or less per pass and about three or less per rush.
Forcing turnovers is also a top priority as Robinson said they were down 10 turnovers last season compared to years past. He and head coach Will Muschamp said those 10 extra possessions are crucial.