Defense comes alive in the second half

South Carolina's defense wakes up in the second half and helps USC defeat Arkansas 38-20. The defense was able to contain the Arkansas offense after halftime and enable South Carolina to end the three-game win streak by the Razorbacks over the Gamecocks.

There was talk during the bye week that some changes were coming to the South Carolina secondary.

Coach Steve Spurrier wanted more complex coverages after the Tennessee offense, led by quarterback Tyler Bray, shredded the Gamecock secondary to the tune of 368 yards. The Gamecocks worked hard during the bye weekend on improving their play in the secondary and as a result, we saw a much better product on the field. It just took a bit longer than expected.

Right out of the gate, we saw some changes to the personnel in the secondary for South Carolina against Arkansas. D.J. Swearinger moved over to cornerback, Damario Jeffery started at the SPUR position and Devonte Holloman moved over to safety. South Carolina wanted a change to get the best players on the field and early on, things weren't working well for the Gamecocks.

Wilson threw 5-of-6 passes in the first quarter for 21 yards but really stepped up his game in the second quarter. Wilson was 9-of-16 in the second quarter for 171 yards and one touchdown as he continued to find the open receivers including Cobi Hamilton. There were a few missed tackles from Victor Hampton early and inconsistent play from Jimmy Legree and Akeem Auguste throughout the first half.

The second half was a much different story for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina held Tyler Wilson to a total of 85 yards in the second half and continued to bring pressure on Wilson from the defensive line. Jadeveon Clowney, Shaq Wilson, Chaz Sutton and Aldrick Fordham all added sacks in this game after Arkansas hadn't allowed more than one sack in seven games this season. The pressure clearly affected Wilson as the Gamecocks were able to provide some big hits on the Arkansas quarterback and force some errant throws.

One of those throws was an interception to Swearinger that was returned 69 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was a momentum-changer for the defense and really set the tone of the blowout victory for South Carolina the rest of the way. The Gamecocks were called for two penalties before the interception, including a personal-foul on Swearinger the play before the interception. It appeared to be a clean hit by Swearinger but he was flagged for the penalty. The next play, Swearinger read Wilson's pass, grabbed it and took off to the end zone untouched. As he reached the end zone, he threw the ball in the stands and, as you would expect, received a penalty after the touchdown.

It was a meaningless penalty, but really put a cap on a tremendous play by Swearinger and seemed to get the crowd at Williams-Brice fired up, and kept them that way the rest of the game.

Swearinger led the team in tackles with 13 for the game.

Another strong aspect of the Gamecock defense today was the limit on Arkansas' third-down conversion. The Razorbacks went 4-of-12 on third-down conversions today and really helped the Gamecocks keep the Razorbacks in bad situations all game long.

The Gamecocks were able to step up big in the second half on defense and contained a potent Arkansas offense. For the game, the Razorbacks finished with just 83 yards rushing and 277 yards through the air and two interceptions.

It wasn't a lockdown performance from the South Carolina defense but there were plenty of big plays, momentum swings and enough defensive stands that allowed South Carolina a blowout victory over a team that has given them fits the last three seasons.

Any time you can afford to throw the football in the stands, you know it's been a good day. South Carolina should be pleased with their performance on Saturday.

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