Gamecocks Defense Is A Jekyll and Hyde Act


Once again this past Saturday, it was a case of Jekyll and Hyde for the USC defense. The difference in performance between the 1st and 2nd halves of the two games so far makes it hard to get a read on them. Much like UNC, the Kentucky Wildcats found very little resistance from the Gamecock defense in the opening half of their 26-22 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium over the weekend.

Missed tackles, open receivers, and a general lack of intensity were all too common last season, and it has been a major factor in two of the four halves that we have watched so far this year. Much like the first game, a Skai Moore interception was the only bright spot in a dreadful first half of football on Saturday. Kentucky was able to do anything they wanted, running and throwing the ball to the tune of 307 total yards before halftime. “We need to play harder. I thought (Kentucky) played harder,” South Carolina co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke said.

With no penetration by the d-line, and linebackers whiffing on tackles in the hole, the Wildcats put together four long scoring drives after that early interception, it looked as if they would run the Gamecocks out of their own building.   Carolina seemed to be out flanked a few times as well, whether or not that was the defense in garnet not lining up properly or Kentucky just calling the right plays I’m not sure. Both UK running backs were successful in the first half, and both ended the game averaging over 6 yards per carry. That is not a stat that will translate into much winning.

No matter if it was to motivate, chastise, or to make adjustments, whatever John Hoke and the defensive staff said at halftime seemed to work again. The Gamecock defense came out on fire in the 2nd half forcing four straight punts and only allowing 92 yards after the break. The coverage was tighter, the tackles were better, and we controlled the line of scrimmage. It was basically the polar opposite of how the first half looked. With no real tangible changes, we went from our defense looking like it was on skates being pushed around to a defense that was aggressive and swarming to the ball.

Skai Moore was once again a standout, making tackles all over the field and collecting his 10th career interception, leaving him just 5 short of breaking USC’s career record.

Unfortunately, the Gamecocks rally fell short, and UK was able to do what Carolina failed at so many times last year, get those last couple of first downs to salt the game away. They gained 46 of their 92 2nd half yards on their last drive and were able to kneel on the ball to run the clock out.

As the pain of the home loss begins to fade, looking ahead is still somewhat of a mystery. What version of the Gamecock defense will show up in Athens next week, the one that has given up over 550 yards in two first halves this season, or the one that has not allowed a second half point?

Next: South Carolina Gamecocks vs Kentucky: Five Key Plays

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