It's not been an easy go for the South Carolina defense through five games in the 2015 season.
Co-defensive coordinators Jon Hoke and Lorenzo Ward have piloted a group at the bottom of the Southeastern Conference, allowing 170.0 rushing yards a game and, almost impossibly, giving up completions on 71.5 percent of passing attempts by opposing quarterbacks.
Here's a look at exactly who and what LSU will encounter when the Tigers' offense takes the field Saturday afternoon when the two conference foes meet in Death Valley (2:30 p.m., ESPN).
SOUTH CAROLINA STARTING DEFENSE
DE: David Johnson (So., 6-1, 240)
DT: Dante Sawyer (So., 6-3, 291)
NT: Gerald Dixon Jr. (Sr., 6-3, 327)
DE: Marquavius Lewis (Jr., 6-3, 264)
MLB: T.J. Holloman (Jr., 6-2, 231)
WLB: Skai Moore (Jr., 6-2, 218)
SLB: Larenz Bryant (Jr., 6-0, 220)
CB: Al Harris Jr. (So., 5-11, 163)
FS: Isaiah Johnson (Sr., 6-0, 209)
SS: Jordan Diggs (Jr., 6-0, 209)
CB: Rico McWilliams (Jr., 5-11, 186)
Key Rotational Players: SPUR T.J. Gurley (Sr., 5-10, 193); LB Jonathan Walton (Jr., 6-0, 235); DE Darius English (Jr., 6-6, 225); DE Cedrick Cooper (Sr., 6-2, 248)
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Probably the biggest bur in the Spurs' saddle defensively this campaign has been falling behind early in ballgames. South Carolina has been outscored 92-48 in the first halves of contests this season, meaning the Gamecocks' offense is always in catch-up mode and throwing frequently. In turn that has Hoke and Ward's defense out on the field way too often and facing offenses that can truly pick their poison with a lead.
Of course South Carolina isn't putting up a great deal of resistance on its end.
The defense has conceded an average of 34 points in three SEC matchups, a trio of losses to Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri. Opponents have run with relative ease on the Gamecocks (see above for 170.0 ypg rush defense) and passed at will, too, completing darn near three-quarters of their attempts through the air.
Now, how much that last tidbit will help LSU and quarterback Brandon Harris is yet to be seen. The last time Harris, his inconsistent receivers and a subpar pass-blocking offensive line (that not many are talking about) took the field, the result was 4-of-15 passes completed for a putrid 80 yards and an interception, directly caused by pressure from Eastern Michigan of all teams.
The two key players to watch on South Carolina's defense are linebacker Skai Moore and defensive lineman Dante Sawyer.
Moore cleans up many of the messes for the front seven, leading the Gamecocks in total tackles, tackles for loss and interceptions, with three. It'll be imperative for LSU fullback J.D. Moore to get a hat on him on the second level.
Sawyer, a JuCo transfer last offseason, primarily plays on the inside at defensive tackle. He'll be a handful for Will Clapp, Maea Teuhema and Ethan Pocic as well as possibly the Tiger offensive tackles on twists or if he occasionally lines up in more of a defensive end alignment.