COLUMBIA, S.C. (September 15, 2015) – The University of South Carolina football team (1-1, 0-1 SEC) practiced Tuesday afternoon on its new practice fields as they continued preparations for Saturday’s SEC Eastern Division showdown with the No. 7/8 Georgia Bulldogs (2-0, 1-0 SEC) in Athens. The Gamecocks have won four of the last five meetings with the Bulldogs.
The Gamecock defense will be challenged to play as well in the first half as they have played in the second half through the first two weeks of the season. In the first half of games, the Carolina defense has surrendered 37 points, but has pitched a shutout in the second half of the two contests.
“I think the guys get a little more relaxed (in the second half), because we don’t change much at halftime,” said co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “We try to do what we’re doing and do it better. For some reason we have to figure out how to start that way. We started the game pretty good against Kentucky. It was like we let up a little bit mentally and it cost us because they scored 24 points after the first turnover. We’ve got to figure a way to come out fast and keep it going throughout the game.”
“We started fast,” echoed defensive line coach Deke Adams. “We got the interception early, then I think we just went into a relaxed mode after that first series, thinking things were going to happen. (Kentucky) kept playing and we didn’t. We dug a hole for ourselves. We played a great second half and did a lot of really good things, but we just didn’t get it done.”
The key to that second-half success is easy to see when you watch the film, according to Adams. “We know it was simple things – guys maintaining their gaps and getting our fits right. We did that in the second half. We trusted the system and trusted what we were doing and we had some success.”
The Carolina coaching staff knows the key to winning on Saturday is to stop the Georgia running attack, led by Nick Chubb.
“They’re going to run the football,” conceded Ward. “Georgia’s always been that way and that’s what we expect. We’ve faced Georgia before. They’re going to run at you. They’ve got great running backs and a great offensive line.”
“They have a lot of great (running backs),” noted Adams. “We have to line up and play. We have to stop the run, just like our focus is every week. That’s what they do and that’s going to be the challenge for us.”
Those players who did not practice on Tuesday included defensive tackle Dante Sawyer (shoulder) and cornerback Chris Lammons (knee).