South Carolina didn’t need to bring a lot of heat on the quarterback last year in terms of blitzes called because the defensive line dominated with pass-rushers like Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor, and Jadeveon Clowney. Even though two of the three are back, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has preached he’ll have a more attacking-style defense.
Defensive line coach Brad Lawing with end Devin Taylor
Defensive line coach Brad Lawing has heard the talk and knows the discussions behind closed doors. He says, however, we won’t truly know how the defense will change this year until the ball is kicked off and the defense takes the field on Thursday night, August 30 in Nashville, Tenn.
“When you get in the game, that’s when you see how somebody is going to call something. We’ll see,” Lawing said recently. “I know how he called the Nebraska game and he did a great job with it. We’ll see how he calls the Vanderbilt game, then we’ll know what his true philosophy is.”
Ward took over the defense prior to the Capital One Bowl when former assistant head coach Ellis Johnson departed to take the head coaching position at Southern Miss. Ward, with a couple of weeks to work, laid out what he wanted to do for the bowl game.
Ward talked about simplifying the defense and he did a lot of things Nebraska was not prepared for in South Carolina’s eventual 30-13 victory. The defense allowed 253 yards of total offense to the Cornhuskers in the game and tied a season-high with six sacks.
Since that game, Ward has visited with college and NFL defensive staffs around the country, worked with his team through spring practice, and now had three weeks of fall practice.
The assistants are getting a good feel for what Ward wants in a game, but they won’t truly know until for another week. Right now, the scheme seems similar but the calls could change.
“When we get to a game, that’s when I’ll find out,” Lawing said. “It’s the same stuff we did last year. There’s nothing really different.”
Q&A with Lawing
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney
How is Devin Taylor doing?
Devin had a real good preseason. I expect him to have an outstanding season.
A guy at his level who knows basically what to do, what are you looking for from him during fall practice?
Just fine-tuning skills and I think he’s done that. I expect him to have a heck of a season.
Is there an area you wanted him to take a step?
He came back to get bigger, which he needs to do, and he came back because he loves South Carolina. He needs to improve his fundamentals, but Devin Taylor is a great Gamecock.
You guys have asked Jadeveon Clowney to absorb a lot more this year. How has he been?
He’s done good. I have asked - he was a freshman last year, and when you’re a freshman, after the first two or three days, you’re like, ‘I didn’t know this much football existed.’ It gets tough on you. When you slow the game down, it’s easier to play. If you’re unsure and things happen for the first time in a game, it is so fast. I think the game has slowed down for him because he’s more confident in what he’s doing. He’s made a lot of strides and we’re asking him to do a lot.
Do you find you’re having to push him less in practice?
No, I’ve pushed him more because my expectations go up. As they get older, you have to keep turning that dang knob up to 6, 7, 8, and you’re trying to blow the dang amp out is what you’re trying to do. I’m on his tail all the time. I told him when he came here, he’s going to get coached. I promised that to him and I’m not going to let him down.
It seems like Phillip Dukes has made a lot of progress. How much progress has he made?
He’s made progress; he really has. He has a concussion right now. Somebody asked me about a hurt leg. I said, ‘I didn’t know what he was talking about.’ As soon as he passes his test, he’ll be back out there. I’m looking forward to getting him back out there and getting some more reps with us.
Who are the second-string players you’re going to put out there against Vanderbilt?
What has been your focus with Kelcy Quarles this season?
Just fundamentals. His fundamentals were very average last season. He was a true freshman and early he was trying to survive. He got better as the season went along, he became a starter, and his production got better. This season, with Kelcy, it’s making progress with fundamentals and learning how to play the game. When they get older, it’s all part of it, to take the next step this year and next year take the next step. If you keep showing improvement, hopefully by the time they’re juniors and seniors, they’re playing really good ball for us.
Have you found your “push guy” yet? Last time we talked, you were looking for a dedicated push guy.
I’ve got several guys who are giving some push. In passing situations, I may have changed my philosophy a little bit. We’ll see.
If you have legs, you use legs. If you have a big ass, you use that ass when you push. I’ve got some legs.
What if you have neither?
Then you go recruit somebody else.
Not really. We run our same stuff, same calls. When you get in the game, that’s when you see how somebody is going to call something. We’ll see. I know how he called the Nebraska game and he did a great job with it. We’ll see how he calls the Vanderbilt game, then we’ll know what his true philosophy is. I know we talk about it, but until you get into the game and see how someone actually calls the game …
But he’s talked about more blitzing than what you guys have done in the past.
That’s what I’m saying. When we get to a game, that’s when I’ll find out. It’s the same stuff we did last year. There’s nothing really different.
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