South Carolina Scouting Report
South Carolina has a new defensive coordinator, and is back to a normal scheme on that side of the ball.
But so far, the Gamecocks are still a pesky, aggressive defensive group. That's the biggest change facing Georgia when No. 25 South Carolina visits Athens on Saturday.
Gone is highly-respected coordinator Charlie Strong. He took to Florida that annoyingly efficient 3-5-3 defense that brought blitzers from hallways, suites, and alleys.
Linebackers coach Chris Cosh was promoted to coordinator, and he installed a more normal 4-3-4 alignment.
The good news? It allows Georgia's offense to practice against a familiar base defensive formation.
The bad news? South Carolina's defense is playing about as good as Georgia's, and the Bulldogs are playing well.
South Carolina is still aggressive, and quarterback David Greene doesn't think the Gamecocks will just sit back much in that standard 4-3 scheme.
"They've definitely got that defensive mentality where they fly around, make a lot of hits," he said. "I think we'll see a lot of what they did in the past; you'll see a lot of 3-D (the 3-5-3) scheme because it worked so well in the past."
Georgia coach Mark Richt praised USC for the defensive change, but he wouldn't be shocked to see a little of that old philosophy show up. 'What they've done the last few years was outstanding," he said.
"Considering we haven't scored an offensive touchdown against 'em in two years."
Ends Moe Thompson and George Gause plus tackle Darrell Shropshire key the defense. Thompson was a freshman all-America last year with 52 tackles is the current league defensive player of the week while Shropshire, a junior college transfer, stepped right into a starting spot. Gause has started slow, but he had 55 stops last year.
A big key is the return of linebacker Ricardo Hurley, a 6-3, 235-pound sophomore.
"We know who Ricardo is," said Richt. "We recruited him very heavily. We were kinda heartbroken when we didn't get him."
The Gamecocks have a new but familiar quarterback. Dondrial Pinkins took over late last year for Corey Jenkins, and entered this season as the starter.
He's played well, although his passing numbers don't show it for he's been somewhat sabotaged by his receivers. They've dropped 17 passes.
"Gosh, Pinkins probably would be hitting about as high a percentage as Greene if they would just catch the ball on a more consistent basis," Richt said. "Usually what happens is ... a group of guys like that, they'll just snap out of it. They're gonna snap out of it one of these days and they're gonna be throwing and catching it extremely well."
Troy Williamson, though, had a timely catch against Virginia: it went for 99 yards and a touchdown. Daccus Turman, a 5-11, 232-pound sophomore from Washington-Wilkes High, is the top running back. He rolled through Virginia for 123 yards on 18 runs with a touchdown.
"(Turman) is a very tough guy to bring down, to take down," Richt said. "You see a little bit more on television, about guys having him right in their sights unblocked, going right to make a hit for two- or three-yard gain, and he just runs right through their arms. He runs very, very physical."
Tailbacks Kenny Irons and Demetrius Summers are both talented, Irons having more experience. Tackle Travelle Wharton is a second-team all-SEC preseason pick, and Na'shan Goddard was a freshman all-American last year. Head coach Lou Holtz has had problems with special teams in recent years, and this is no different.
"The kicking game really bothers me," he said, noting poor kicking despite good snaps and no rush. "Our kickoff coverage really concerns me."
Still, Richt likes much of what USC is doing strategically on both sides of the ball, but that's not what's impressed him most.
"I saw a team that's highly-motivated, a a team that was very physical offensively and defensively they basically wore Virginia down by the end of the game," he said. "By the time it got to the fourth quarter, it was theirs, and that's the sign of a team that's well-conditioned and physical. "The physical play is what impressed me the most."
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