Brinkley brothers respect all, fear none

With an inconsistent offense going up against LSU's dominant defense, the Gamecocks are counting on their defense to give them a chance to win against the no. 2 ranked Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Though it lacks the national recognition given to LSU, Carolina's defense is a force in its own right, led by the hard-hitting Brinkley twins.

At South Carolina's weekly press conference, Jasper and Casper Brinkley were seated on opposite sides of the room to reduce confusion, but they still ended up repeatedly answering the question "Are you Jasper or Casper?" It should get a little easier to tell the two apart this week, as Casper shifts from linebacker to defensive end, the position he played all of last year. When asked to discuss the move, Casper said he feels very comfortable playing with his hand down again.

"When Nate (Pepper) got hurt, Coach put me at end because they wanted somebody there with experience," he said. "I'm not mad or anything about it, I'm happy whatever I can do to help the team. I played all end [in practice], just making sure I remember everything."

LSU starting quarterback Matt Flynn has been hobbled with a sprained ankle the past two weeks. In the senior's absence, sophomore Ryan Perrilloux started last Saturday against MTSU and played so well that the Tigers plan to utilize both quarterbacks against the Gamecocks. Although the two signal-callers present different looks for USC's defense, both Brinkleys maintained that the duo will not present any added difficulties for the Gamecocks.

"I know Coach is going to put us in the right game plan," said Jasper. "I don't think it should affect us too much. As players, we know they have two great quarterbacks, with Matt Flynn and Ryan Perrilloux. We've just got to come in ready for them. Matt Flynn is more the passing-type quarterback, and Perrilloux is more the pass-run. with all that being said, they are both great quarterbacks and great athletes."

Casper said nearly the exact same thing, showing how in sync the entire defense is.

"They're two great, talented quarterbacks. We've really just got to focus and see what one likes to do and what the other likes to do. Right now we know that Perrilloux is more like a scrambler and Flynn is more likely to sit in the pocket and pass. We're going to have a good game plan ready for them."

One of the themes that the team has been repeating all week is that if each individual handles his assignments, the team will play well, and the outcome will take care of itself. Coaches, offensive players, and defensive players have all echoed this philosophy, and Casper explained how the defense approaches the game.

"We know right now it's going to be a hard fought game," he said. "We know going into the game we're not going to worry about the score. We're going to go out there and do our thing, focus on our assignments, and everybody execute. We're not going to worry about the score, we're going to let the score take care of itself."

With the biggest game of their Gamecock careers only days away, both Casper and Jasper struggled to contain their excitement. Spurrier has worked to instill the team with the idea that the game is an opportunity to prove itself, and the Brinkleys are right behind him. Even thought Carolina is a big underdog, they cannot wait to take the field.

"We know we're going to be the underdogs, so we feed off of stuff like that," said Casper, who added he thinks LSU is the best team he has ever faced. "That's going to make us play even harder. When we go down there and prove them wrong, we feel great. LSU is a great team, but they can be beaten. The way to beat them is to execute and play our assignments and don't worry about the score... When people overlook us, that makes us go in the game and work even harder just to show the world that we can compete with anybody."

"It is the biggest game since I've been here," Jasper acknowledged. "Playing the number two ranked team in the country, we've got to go in with our minds on right. We can't focus on the little things, we've just got to go in there with one goal, and that's to come out of Death Valley with a win."

Neither Brinkley has ever been to Baton Rouge, but both are well aware of the reputation Death Valley has as one of the most intimidating places to play in the country. The stadium is supposed to be especially loud at night, so it has been suggested that the Gamecocks dodged a bullet when kickoff was scheduled for the afternoon.

"I've heard no matter what time you play, you're still going to get the full effect," Jasper disagreed. "I don't think there is a difference. I heard the noise is so tremendous you can hardly hear yourself think."

"Their fans are better than our fans, that's what I heard," Casper said dubiously. "It's a tough place to try to go in and get a win. You've got to play your best game to go in there and beat them. I've got a best friend that plays at Auburn, Quentin Groves. He told me they try to intimidate you with the tiger when you're walking in."

Mike the Tiger may be waiting to growl at the Gamecocks as they take the field, but do not expect the Brinkleys to back down. They know what challenge awaits them, and they're looking to go out on a national stage and make a name for South Carolina football.

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