4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEFENSE
– The defense was able to get behind the line on a regular basis – coming up with an okay 26 tackles, but generated 80 tackles for loss – but the takeaways weren’t there and there were too many issues against the run. There should be more consistency from the line with a loaded group of tackles to play around with, and the pass rush should come from several spots with 23 of the 26 sacks returning.
– The linebacking corps should be terrific. TJ Brunson is the team’s leading tackler in the middle, but there are plenty of other options to work into the inside. The outside combination of Sherrod Green and Daniel Fennell are veterans who should be far more consistent and more dangerous.
– Can the secondary pick off a pass? Graduated CB Rashad Fenton came up with three interceptions. The rest of the Gamecocks came up with three. It’s not that the secondary was awful – it was more than fine – but it didn’t generate enough big plays.
Jaycee Horn is a rising star at corner, but the depth isn’t there on the outside. The safeties have experience and players to fold into the mix around sophomore RJ Roderick, who’ll play more of a freelancing role in a nickel spot.