Defensive line coach Brad Lawing had to proud of his line’s performance Saturday against East Carolina.
At least most of them.
South Carolina built such a commanding lead that most of the fourth quarter was played with back-ups. Lawing estimated that the younger guys got to play between 20-25 snaps against ECU, but they were not the quality snaps Lawing had hoped his players would get.
“At the end of the game we put the freshmen in there and I told them ‘there’s no substitutes coming in if you get tired,’” Lawing said Tuesday afternoon. “I wanted to see if they could suck it up and they gave in at the end and embarrassed their hometowns and their families. I let them know that at the end of the game.”
Gerald Dixon, Gerald Dixon Jr., Phillip Dukes, and Darius English spent the entire fourth quarter on the field that included the longest Pirate drive of the game that resulted in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Shane Carden to Justin Hardy. On the touchdown play Carden had seven seconds to throw the ball, an eternity for any quarterback to find an open receiver and for a defensive back to cover a receiver. That is why Hardy was so wide open.
“At the end of that game they gave in to the heat, they gave in to being tired,” Lawing said. “They have to learn to suck it up and go. Most of those guys played every snap in high school because they didn’t have to run and chase the ball all of the time. They didn’t have to rush the quarterback with 600 pounds hanging on them. It’s a new experience and the sooner they learn how to handle that the better they will become. It’s all a learning experience and that was part of it.”
As a result of the poor play down the stretch, the three redshirt freshman and the true freshman English paid for it Monday night. Each Monday night throughout football season the team holds Monday Night Football, a chance for the scout team players and those that don’t get a lot of playing time to get an opportunity to scrimmage each other and get some “live” action. Lawing told all of the scout team linemen to go do some running and put Dixon, Dixon Jr., Dukes, and English in for the entire scrimmage.
“They did it and they got tired and I was on their tail, but I’m just trying to make them better,” Lawing said. “Coaching football is different. You have to push, pry, and you can never accept mediocrity.”
The four should get an opportunity to redeem themselves this weekend when Carolina hosts UAB, another team it should be able to handle fairly easily. Under first-year coach Garrick McGee, the Blazer offense should look similar to the offense at Arkansas, where McGee spent the last two years as offensive coordinator under Bobby Petrino and four years overall.
"It’s a very similar offense,” Lawing said. “In our breakdown, we took their game against Troy and then we added a lot of the Arkansas games because they have a similar scheme."
While Lawing is concerned about the play of the younger guys, he is happy with the play of his starters. Defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor continue to be disruptive coming off the edges. Lawing credited Clowney with two of the interceptions ECU threw because he was disruptive and in the face of the quarterback.
“He did very well,” Lawing said. “He and Devin Taylor are playing at a very high level right now.”
Kelcy Quarles is one of the three Gamecocks credited with 10 or more tackles this season. The sophomore tackle has 10 tackles and a sack through two games.
“Kelcy is playing good,” Lawing said. “Last week was such a different situation. I think in the first half they had 29 plays and just one run. It frustrates you because it’s hard to get there, but to me if they’re catching it and throwing fast that’s affecting the quarterback. I’m not a huge stat guy.”
The other starting tackle, Byron Jerideau, has not showed up much on the stat sheet after two games, credited with four tackles, but Lawing has been happy with his progress.
“Jerideau had a couple of tackles in there and held the point,” Lawing said. “He’s playing good. As we progress towards the meat of our season we just have to get better and better at developing out players and bring our young guys along so that we have quality depth once we enter the crux of the SEC schedule.”
- Clowney did not practice Tuesday afternoon. He is still dealing with a rib contusion suffered during Saturday’s game. Lawing expects Clowney to return tomorrow.
- Connor Shaw practiced Tuesday, but continues to be limited in the number of reps he is taking. It seems like the coaching staff is going to take the same approach as they did last week. It has been reported that one coach did say that Shaw could have played if he were needed. I expect the same scenario this week. If he is not 100% by Thursday he will not play, but could play if needed.