Scouting Report: South Carolina Defense

Carolina has struggled since losing stud linebacker Jasper Brinkley in the LSU game.

Last Saturday many of you saw the Gamecocks get trampled by Arkansas for 541 rushing (650 total) yards in a 48-36 loss. On the year they give up 206 on the ground and 149 through the air. They've given up 75 points in the last two games and their best performance, holding Georgia to 12 points came all the way back on September 8.

Defensive line --- The defensive front is pretty solid, particularly at the end position with Eric Norwood (5 sacks) and Casper Brinkley (3 sacks). However both are better at getting up field and rushing the passer than holding up against the run. Inside, a freshman tackle Ladi Ajiboye gives them some push (3 sacks).

Linebacker --- This was perhaps the best unit on the team when the season started, but it's not anymore. First, they lost their best player in Jasper Brinkley. The next game the coaches moved Casper Brinkley to defensive end. As a result the trio of SLB Rodney Paulk, MLB Marvin Sapp and WLB Cliff Matthews is rather ordinary. Paulk leads the group with 54 tackles, four for loss.

Defensive back --- The secondary probably is their best unit with two guys who really stand out. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is an excellent player who was all over the field when Carolina shut down Tennessee for most of the second half. Strong safety Emanuel Cook is the best all around player, but is slowed by an ankle injury. When healthy, Cook leads Carolina with 76 tackles, seven for loss. He also is credited with three QB sacks and two interceptions. If he's limited Saturday night, that's a big setback for them.

Overall, this is a defense Florida should be able to move the ball at will against. Obviously the Gators can't run the ball like Arkansas does, but they should run well enough to pile up yardage and create opportunities for big plays in the passing game. The early part of the game will be extra important because Carolina's confidence has to be shaky at best after the Arkansas game and Florida wants to keep it that way.

Special teams --- Carolina is pretty good at returning kickoffs with Chris Culliver (25.7, long of 44) but they also give up plenty (24.6, long of 49) to their opponents. Their punt return is average and their punt coverage is pretty sound, so if there's a significant return in this game it most likely will come on a kickoff. Ryan Succop is one of the few guys around who serves as both the place kicker and punter and he's pretty good at both. He averages 41.5 on punts with eleven downed inside the 20. About half his punts are returned for an average of eight yards. He is 12-16 on field goals, perfect inside 40 yards, but just 4-for-8 from 40 and beyond. On kickoffs he has just nine touchbacks in 52 kicks.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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