Gamecocks prepare for Navy option offense

The South Carolina defense has the difficult task of stopping the nation's best rushing offense when Navy visits Columbia Saturday. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward spoke with the media following the practice.

For one week the South Carolina defense will take practically everything they've been taught and throw it away. When they take on Navy this Saturday inside Williams-Brice Stadium in the home opener, they will face the most unique offense in the country - the triple option. In two games the Navy offense has rushed for 801 yards and 80 points in wins over Delaware and Western Kentucky. They do what they do and they do it well.

"That's why the lead the nation in rushing - over 400 yards a game," defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said following Monday's practice. "We're going to have to play disciplined this weekend and when they do throw we can't let them have any success throwing the ball."

The Gamecocks have seen it all defensively in the first three weeks of the season. From East Carolina's spread offense to Georgia's balanced attack and now Navy's option offense, the Gamecocks have had to prepare for it all. This offense may be the most difficult of them all.

"You definitely have to change what you do to a certain point," Ward said. "We have to do things differently because they're an option team and you have to play assignment football."

Navy is led offensively by a trio of runners. Quarterback Kriss Proctor has led the rushing attack with 199 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries. Fullback Alexander Teich has 167 yards on 29 carries, and split back John Howell has rushed for an astounding 126 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries. He has an average of 25.2 yards per carry. Split back Aaron Santiago has the other two touchdown runs for Navy.

It's going to be all about discipline and assignments for the Gamecock defense, something it has struggled with at times this season. One mistake in this game and it's touchdown Navy.

"The biggest thing in the ball game we did wrong was overrunning the ball," Ward said. "If you do that to this team, they're going to make big plays. We had guys hustling to the ball, but we have to be smart and protect the cutback angles."

Proctor has only throw 14 passes in two games, completing seven of them, but three of the completions has gone for touchdowns. Receivers Brandon Turner and Matt Aiken, along with Santiago are the only players to catch a pass and each has scored one of the three touchdowns.

To combat the option, the coaches have made a few changes, but it will likely be only this week. Back-up Spur Devonte Holloman will move to boundary safety and D.J. Swearing will be a free safety to provide solid, physical tacklers to combat the option. Demario Jeffery will take over the back-up role at Spur for Holloman.

Also, despite suffering a sprained neck that caused him to wear a yellow jersey tonight, C.C. Whitlock will play this weekend. Since Navy is not a passing threat, the coaches have decided to sit Akeem Auguste to further recover from his injury. He did not hurt his foot worse and Coach Ward said he played well, but the coaching staff felt best to sit him this week. He will return for the Vanderbilt game.

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