In-depth look at the 2013 Gamecock Defense: More Experienced than Georgia?

Recently our fearless leader here at DudeYouCrazy spoke on Jadeveon Clowney and the hype surrounding him.  He also said he figured I would be speaking soon about the Gamecock defense.  What do you know?  He was right about something Gamecock related!

Now, we all know how hard South Carolina was hit by attrition on the defensive side of the ball.  If you have been under a rock since January, we lost just about everyone on the defensive side of the ball.  Hard hitter DJ Swearinger is gone, and his presence will be more than missed.  Long time starter at Defensive End, Devin Taylor is also gone to the NFL.  Our two-deep at our Linebacker and Spur spots are depleted.  The team that takes the field on August 29th will feature almost as much inexperience as Georgia’s.

Now, how should I break this down?  Positives & Negatives?  By position? By random tidbits of information?  Let’s do this by position, so I can at least show how we have more experience than UGA, since I’m sure that statement above will be taken some sort of way by our rabid sick mutt beloved Dawg brothers.


This position returns the most experience even after losing Akeem Auguste.

The group will be led by veteran corner, Victor Hampton (pictured above). Victor had issues when he first came to Carolina, mostly maturity issues.  He was briefly dismissed from the team but returned not long after.  Since then, his maturity off the field has been the best you could ask for.  He learned his lesson, and has played lights out.  He knows the opportunities that are within reach and he will play the best season possible.  Will he get beat? I’m sure he will a couple of times.  Show me a corner that has never gotten beat… Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Also returning, will be Jimmy Legree.  Jimmy saw limited action last season in a back up role to Akeem Auguste.  He did play while Akeem was injured the first few games of the season.  When he was on the field, he impressed.  If I remember correctly, he had two pick-6’s.  He has enough experience and talent that he will hold his own this season.

Defensive End

I guess you can consider this a strength to our team. (Sarcasm, sorry, its a habit…)  We return All-World Defensive End, Jadeveon Clowney, but lose the disruptive force of Devin Taylor.  Now, last season, Devin Taylor was extremely limited by Brad Lawing, former D-Line Coach.  As silly as that sounds, Devin was used primarily to contain on his side.  Even sillier, right?  Answer me this, how many plays did he make last season?  He had more pass deflections than sacks.  No slight to him, but he was a victim of the system.

To replace Devin Taylor, we bring in fifth year Senior, Chaz Sutton.  Under Deke Adams, expect him to play like there is no tomorrow.  Deke will bring a much more aggressive approach, and Chaz Sutton is an excellent pass rusher.

At the other side will be Jadeveon Clowney.  That is all.

Just kidding.

Clowney registered 13.5 sacks, and 23.5 tackles for loss this past season.  After the bowl game, the expectations surrounding him went to heights further than Vincent Smiths helmet.  As Drew said in a previous article, it was Vincent Smith, not anyone of note.  You’re right, but you put ANY runningback into that situation and he is destroyed.  When Clowney is in your face before the ball is fully in your hands, I don’t care if you’re the size of William Perry, you’re going down.

Back to Clowney.  I expect his expectations to far surpass his actual performance solely due to the fact that there will likely be two or three blockers on him at all times.  Enter Chaz Sutton and Kelcey Quarles (more on him later).  With the attention Clowney gets, expect the rest of the D-Line (and inexperience Linebackers) to get more one-on-one time.  So while I fully expect Clowney to fall short of EXPECTATIONS (not quality play), I also expect the overall performance of the defensive line to rise in meteoric fashion.  Let’s face it though, when one of your expectations involves on field homicide, it’s a good thing you don’t rise to the occasion.  Expect Gerald Dixon to get some time in rotation.

Defensive TackleThe big guys in the middle.  Everyone loves these guys.

The big name among Defensive Tackles at South Carolina, is Kelcey Quarles.  This man is huge, I’ve seen him in person.  I wouldn’t even want to have him jump on a dog pile.  He has a tendency to lose on run plays, but he’s still a solid playmaker.  Adding yet another year of workouts though could help him in that department.   Expect the rotation to include Philip Dukes, Gerald Dixon Jr (yes, there are two Gerald Dixon’s on the roster.  Same father, different mothers, same name.), and JT Surratt.

Once again, the Defensive Line will be very strong.


Our safety positions return players who all have some experience.  Brison Williams locked down the Strong Safety spot last year next to DJ Swearinger, so we are safe there, barring some unforeseen circumstance.  TJ Gurley is another safety with experience, he was seen in place of DJ Swearinger while he was suspended a game for a jaw jarring hit.  Kadetrix Marcus saw time on special teams, so hopefully he is at least acclimated to the college atmosphere.

Not much worry in the secondary, folks.

Now for the BIG problem.

We lost five in the Linebacking corps.  Not good.

Look for Kelvin Rainey (former tight end, had 6 interceptions in spring training) and Kaiwan Lewis to hold down the Linebacker positions.  (SC runs a 4-2-5, thus two linebackers.)  Kelvin Rainey will either solidify his position as a Linebacker, or will be overtaken by Ced Cooper when he returns from his injury.  Either way, this group has about four tackles worth of experience.

The upside you may ask?  Talent.  This group is the most physically gifted and talented group USC has recruited under Spurrier.  The group WILL be a strength eventually.  I doubt it will be August 29th.  I’m looking more along the October games to where they start clicking.  2014 by the time they are a true strength.

Now, let’s take a glance at the Spur.  If you aren’t sure what a spur is, it is a Safety/Linebacker Hybrid position.  This will be locked down by Sharod Golightly.  I assure you one thing about him, he does NOT go lightly.  He’s a hard hitter, and should be one of the first to really feel at home on the field in this group.

Let me simplify all of this.
Defensive Line: A+

Cornerbacks:  A-

Safeties:  B

Linebackers:  D (B+/A for Talent and Upside)

Spur:  B-

I think the way our line plays will be the determining factor of the play of the linebackers.  If the line plays to it’s potential, it will surely cause mistakes by the offense, which should (hopefully) help the linebackers.  The defense has the talent, but this question still remains:  When will the Linebackers take the next step and play to the quality of the rest of the defense?

As always, it’s Great to be a Gamecock!
JB, signing out.

//Follow me on Twitter @jbarnes24dyc
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About Johnathan Barnes

24 years old. E-Book writer. SC Football article writer. I'm from a small town right outside of Columbia, SC.

Posted on June 17, 2013, in Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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