Carolina defense ready for balanced attack

South Carolina wrapped up the week's practice schedule Thursday in anticipation of the SEC opener in Athens against Georgia Saturday afternoon. Following the practice, assistant head coach Ellis Johnson met with the media.

It's said that sometimes the best offense is a good defense. This week when South Carolina travels to Athens to take on the Georgia Bulldogs, the best defense may be a good offense. In last week's 35-21 loss to Boise State, Georgia fell behind early and was forced to throw more often than they would like to.

"I feel like we just have to get them behind schedule. Boise was able to do that," Assistant head coach Ellis Johnson said Thursday. "They played very tough with them early and then all of a sudden the offense broke loose and had (Georgia) down, and that enabled Boise to be able to play a little more of a one-dimension defense. It comes down to stopping the run and make them a little more predictable. It goes into all facets; if we have great field position and our offense scores points early that puts them behind schedule , and we're getting three and outs it all works hand-in-hand. Until you get those guys way behind they're just too balanced to be able to effectively stop them. What you are trying to do then is just manage them."

After playing a team in East Carolina that threw the ball 56 times, the Gamecocks will face a much more balanced attack. Despite falling behind Georgia's Aaron Murray only threw 29 passes. Murray completed 16 of those passes for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns with one interception. That's a lot similar to the Gamecock offense that only threw 25 passes in the opening game win.

"The big thing is it's a lot more like our offense, which is what you see all spring and all fall. That makes it a whole lot more comfortable," Johnson said. "A lot of the things we've been repping our defense we played it against East Carolina. Georgia has a lot of that stuff and do a very good job in the spread – he gets the ball out quick. We're still going to have to defend some of the same stuff."

Last week was the debut of highly touted running back Isaiah Crowell. Georgia fans claimed Crowell as their ‘Marcus Lattimore.' Crowell's career got off to a good start, rushing for 60 yards on 15 carries. Though he didn't get the chance to show it against the Broncos, Crowell has game-breaking speed and is a threat every time he touches the ball.

"He's capable, no question," Johnson said. "They're both good ball carriers, but totally different styles. When he touches it I'm sure he's faster than Marcus, but I like to have Marcus and I'm sure they like to have him. They're both great backs. He's got tremendous speed and can take it the distance any time.

Boise was able to get to Murray for six sacks, which has to have the Gamecock defensive line salivating at the opportunity. After not recording a sack against the Pirates due to their fast-paced offense, the line will be chomping at the bit to get to Murray.

"We're going to start (Jadeveon) Clowney, Melvin (Ingram) and Devin (Taylor) simply because all three played well, have had a good week of practice and deserve to start," Johnson said. "Very soon into the rotation we'll have two tackles inside."

Murray's biggest target offensively is literally his biggest target. 6-3, 241 pound tight end Orson Charles was second team All-SEC in 2010 and got his junior year started off right. Charles tied a career-high with six receptions and a career-high 109 yards against Boise. He also had on touchdown reception.

"He didn't even have his best game," Johnson said "He dropped a couple of balls, slipped on a route one time, and still got over 100 yards. He's just really fast and skilled kid to be playing tight end. He'll line up in the tight end spot and they'll flex him out and you'll have to defend him like a wideout. He presents good match-ups for them and bad for you playing man. He's just such a good athlete."

The Gamecocks hope to get back starting cornerback Akeem Auguste Saturday. After missing practically the entire fall camp and last week's season opener with a foot injury, Auguste returned to practice Wednesday.

"He's had a good day and a half," Johnson said. "We just have to keep checking with the trainer. I think he got good work on it yesterday. We don't do much today physically where it would be anything to stress it too bad. He got off the field yesterday with a pretty good practice and didn't have many problems with it. We're hopeful we'll have him."


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