Why Lorenzo Ward Needs to Stay at South Carolina


Well I’m sure some people are already pissed off just reading the headline to this article.  You’ve been mad, angry, upset, and disappointed.  I don’t know Lorenzo Ward, but knowing the competitor he is, I have no doubt he’s been all those things as well this year.  Expectations were high.  From the media, from the fans, even from the coaches.  They had just signed a great recruiting class and come off a great season, and the guys looked good in spring.  Everyone felt good.

Even now, looking back, I never understood how everyone could act like what happened after last season was no big deal.

2013 Defensive startersCurrent Team
Jadeveon ClowneyHouston Texans
Kelcey QuarlesIndianapolis Coltss
Chaz SuttonTampa Bay Bucaneers
Jimmy LegreeArizona Cardinals
Victor HamptonNew York Giants

So the Gamecocks went into this year not only with 5 starters from last year gone, but these were five strong players and leaders on the field.  And three of these guys were defensive line starters.  The team had recruited some great players, though, and many people felt like they would be able to step into and replace the big shoes that needed to be filled and things would just keep going as normal.  But how did no one see this was not possible?  You don’t take 5 starters with that kind of impact and just move on.  You just don’t.  The expectations, even from the coaches were just unrealistic.

Look at how many young players were a huge part of this season’s defense:

Bryson Allen-WilliamsLBFR122
Al Harris Jr.CBFR124
Chris LammonsCBFR107
D.J. SmithDBFR121
Taylor StallworthDTFR80
David JohnsonDERS FR95
Jasper SasserFSRS FR90
Larenz BryantSPRSO120
Skai MooreLBSO129
Jonathan WaltonLBSO136

Wow.  I mean just wow.  Look at all those guys, and think about how young they are, playing against some of the best teams in college football.  Learning coverages, schemes, and more at a higher level than they had ever played before.  And the guy next to them on defense was in the same position they were. It was just too much, and regardless of how much talent or natural ability all these young guys had and Lorenzo Ward saw, it wasn’t enough.

I get it.  People want someone held accountable.  It’s the way of sports these days.  Head coaches are fired after only one season for not turning around a program fast enough.  Coordinators are fired for one bad season to deflect pressure from the head coach.  But there is something to be said for believing in someone, instilling confidence in their ability, especially when that person is the leader.

Think about how much better this team could be next year with all the experience they have on defense – with all the games played by guys like Chris Lammons, DJ Smith, Al Harris Jr, and Bryson Allen-Williams, not to mention Skai Moore and Jonathan Walton will not only be juniors but juniors who have already put in a ton of time.  Then you compliment (compliment, not replace) the defense with newcomers like Marquavius Lewis, Shameik Blacksheer, Arden Key, Dexter Wideman, and Sherrod Pittman and you have a team filled with talent AND experience.  Coach Ward has been a big part of getting a lot of these guys to come here in the first place, and he is already building a relationship with them he can leverage over the next couple years.

Steve Spurrier needs to send a message that he values what Lorenzo Ward has done, what he is building.  He needs to tell his players that Coach Ward is the man, that he is here to stay and going to be leading them on defense next season.  Just like he did for himself in extending his contract – because of how it looks, to both the coach and to the players.