Gamecocks are known for defense

The South Carolina Gamecocks currently sit atop the SEC in total defense. They lead the SEC in pass defense, allowing just 132 yards per game, and allow just 108 yards per game rushing. They boast one of the SEC's best linebackers in senior Jasper Brinkley, and their number one receiving target, senior Kenny McKinley, could hold all of the Gamecocks' receiving records when the season is finished.

And despite all of this, most SEC fans associate South Carolina with a visor - the preferred hat of head coach Steve Spurrier.

Of all the players that will contribute in Saturday’s matchup between LSU and South Carolina, not many of them were older than 10 years-old when Spurrier ruled the SEC from 1990-2001 with the Florida Gators.

In the wake of Florida’s 51-21 victory over LSU this past weekend, it seems only fitting that Tiger fans must face their former tormentor once again.

“He’s a great coach,” said LSU quarterback Andrew Hatch. “Obviously he’s had a lot of success with his quarterbacks and you have to respect that.”

A Heisman-winning quarterback himself, Spurrier coached several Gator signal callers to prominence in his famous ‘Fun’n Gun’ system. He helped Danny Wuerffel win the 1996 Heisman trophy on the way to a national championship, and saw Rex Grossman finish as the runner-up for the award in 2001.

These accolades resonate with Hatch as a quarterback, but he said the coaches on the sideline won’t affect his preparation for the game.

It’s probably good for Spurrier that his defense is playing as well as it has. The focus will certainly be on the Ol’ Ball Coach’s offensive prowess, but the fact of the matter is it hasn’t quite shown up yet this season.

The Gamecocks rank seventh in the conference in total offense and eighth in scoring offense. Despite having a veteran tailback in Mike Davis, South Carolina ranks dead last in the SEC in rushing, averaging 109 yards per game.

That’s no comfort to the LSU defense, however.

Spurrier’s offensive scheme is a different beast from the spread attack that shredded them in Gainesville, and the Gamecocks have found some success with a two quarterback system featuring Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley. The duo combined for 274 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 24-17 win against Kentucky, with Garcia going 10 of 14 for 169 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s somewhat similar to what we have going on here,” said senior defensive tackle Marlon Favorite. “The fact that we see two quarterbacks here who both use different styles is going to help us in this game. As we watch more film throughout the week we’ll be able to get their different games down to a science.”

Junior cornerback Chris Hawkins said the defense has had experience defending two quarterbacks as long as he’s been around the program.

“When Ryan [Perrilloux] was here he split snaps with Flynn,” Hawkins said. “So we’re used to seeing that and it won’t be a big adjustment. We’re not going to try to change those old schemes, we’re just going to build on mistakes and make the defense better.”

Days after allowing 51 points against Florida, Favorite said the defense looks forward to a chance to prove its worth against an offensive mind like Spurrier.

“In the SEC, all teams are competitive,” he said. “South Carolina has great coaching and tremendous athletes. I look at it as a great challenge, and I think we’re going to come out fighting.”


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