Tyrone Nix: It's All About Effort

Defensive Coordinator Tyrone Nix is entering his second season at South Carolina, and despite only returning one true starter from a year ago, Nix's defense held Mississippi State scoreless in the season opener. Nix still maintains that the defense has a ways to go, but he could not help but be pleased with the effort and enthusiasm shown by his young defense. Read inside for full interview.

Question: What are your thoughts on the young defense's play on Thursday night?

Answer: We did some good things at times, but still too many missed tackles and missed assignments. If we do three things: play hard, play smart, and play with technique, then we have a chance.

Question: Were you saving Stanley Doughty for a spot like that 4th and 1 situation against Mississippi State?

Answer: That's the only thing he can do right now. Until some other things happen for him, he's not as high on the depth chart as some other guys. So we'll go with the other guys first.

Question: This was the defense's first shut out since the season opener in 2000. Do you take a lot of pride in that?

Answer: We don't look at the numbers as the main factor of the ball game. As long as we win and we have more points than the opposing team, we're satisfied. Of course we have goals and objectives, but our goal is not to shut teams out. It's to play as well as we can and get the ball back to our offense as soon as possible.

Question: Did you see improvement in the run defense tonight?

Answer: We've still got to tackle better. We've got to leverage the football better, so we must continue to improve on that weekly and daily. We're nowhere near where we need to be in order to be a good defense.

Question: Jasper Brinkley obviously had a great game. Did you expect that kind of play from him?

Answer: We went out to junior college and Ron Cooper spotted him. We knew we were going to have a need at linebacker, and we felt like he was a kid who could come in and factor in right away. As you saw in the spring, he moved up to the top of the depth chart pretty fast, so we expect that out of him. Coach Spurrier has talked about him from time to time as being an SEC type linebacker, and that's what he is.

Question: With having so many young players play significant snaps, are you pleased that you pitched the shutout?

Answer: Sometimes on defense, a guy will make a mistake whether he's a freshman, sophomore, or junior, but if you play with great effort, if you play with outstanding effort, then you have a chance to cover up some of those mistakes.

Question: Can you talk more about Jasper and Casper Brinkley?

Answer: Jasper's bigger than Casper, and Jasper think he's better looking. (laughs) I think both of them are quality football players. Casper's probably more of a linebacker type that's playing defensive end out of necessity. He's accepted that role and that responsibility, and he's doing okay.

Question: Did you feel the tone was set when the defense held Mississippi State without any points on the first possession?

Answer: That was a big play, but we're trying to play the entire game. We're not trying to play the first series or the last series. We're trying to play every series like it's the most important. That was the challenge to go out and compete for four quarters or however long it took from snap to whistle.

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