South Carolina football: Gamecocks’ defense gets a blast from the past

South Carolina football

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – South Carolina football fans finally got a glimpse of what a Will Muschamp defense is supposed to look like.

The Gamecocks were fast, physical, relentless in the third quarter of Saturday’s 35-28 win over North Carolina State in Charlotte, N.C. For a moment, it was a flashback to the days when Clowney, Gilmore and Swearinger were kicking butt and taking names on a weekly basis in the SEC.

But the first half at Bank of America wasn’t pretty. Led by quarterback Ryan Finley and H-back Jaylen Samuels, the Wolfpack racked up 296 yards passing, scored pair of touchdowns and possessed the ball for almost 18 minutes before the Gamecocks defense finally got its footing.

“I think everyone just calmed down,” senior linebacker Skai Moore said. “I mean, the first game jitters and everyone’s a little anxious. After that, we calmed down and saw what they were really doing. We played our ball. We played our football.”

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Communication was key, according to Muschamp, whose coaching staff was without press box communication for the first half.

“The first time in my coaching career, so it’s a little frustrating when you can’t talk to anybody about where the ball hit and where the ball was,” Muschamp said, after noting N.C. State’s quick-strike passing game.

“We get our four-man pass rush a little better,” Muschamp said of the second half. “In the first half, they had done, in my opinion – I don’t mean this in a negative way – the ball was out quickly. I know we’re all going to play about pass rush, but it’s hard to get there when the ball is out as quickly.”

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Moore, senior defensive end Dante Sawyer and sophomore ‘Buck’ Bryson Allen-Williams all had sacks in the third quarter. Sawyer’s sack led to a Rico Dowdle’s 7-yard touchdown run, which gave South Carolina a 35-21 lead.

The Gamecocks gave up 46 yards on 20 plays and pitched a shutout during the period.

“They brought more energy than in the first half,” sophomore quarterback Jake Bentley said. “They really started to get after them. They really started to get after them. They really had our backs, forced some turnovers that were big for us, and had some big stops. That’s what a team’s about.”

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No stop was bigger than the one with six seconds to play, when senior safety D.J. Smith broke up Finley’s fourth-down pass into the end zone.

“That’s what we love. That’s what we play for,” Moore said. “We play for those moments, lift [weights] for those moments. That’s what football is all about, our backs against the wall and we’ve got to make a play and get [off] of that wall. We really bowed up today and matured, made a play.”

The group will need to build off that success next Saturday night against a high-powered Missouri offense that scored 72 points and racked up 815 yards.

The post South Carolina football: Gamecocks’ defense gets a blast from the past appeared first on SEC Country.

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