USC defense wants to build on stellar performance this week vs. Vols

USC defense wants to build on stellar performance this week vs. Vols

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley is all too familiar with what the Gamecocks defense is capable of.

"I just like to say that they know our plays at practice," Bentley quipped.

His defensive teammates' hunger for the football seems to grow week after week. Whether they're in practice on under the Saturday night lights, the Gamecocks thrive on taking the ball away from opposing offenses.

"They're always talking about getting the ball out and whether they're stripping the ball, punching at the ball on our running backs, or jumping routes, they do a great job of just going to attack the ball," Bentley said. "And I think that makes us better offensively of taking care of the ball and being smart. It is exciting to see them get after the ball and get turnovers for us."

The Gamecocks forced four turnovers against Arkansas last Saturday, which yielded 24 points on the day including three defensive touchdowns. Plus, Carolina held the Razorbacks to just 106 rushing yards on the day. Arkansas entered the game with three different running backs with more than 200 yards on the year.

"Our D-line as a whole, pass rush and run defense, they played great," Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore said. "They cause a lot of disruptions for us and allow us in the back end to make a lot of plays. So, we feed off of them."

"We just love the ball," said USC defensive lineman Dante Sawyer. "We just love going after the ball. Our top priority is to get the ball. You can hear me saying it coming off the sideline: 'Hey, we need so-and-so turnovers. We need to get the ball.' We emphasize it a lot."

Having that kind of performance can give a team a tremendous amount of confidence, but Carolina has no intention on dwelling on that dominant display with Tennessee up next on the docket.

"It's SEC East," Moore said. "We're locked in and we're on the road. If anyone feels that way, we're checking it as soon as we see it. We're locked in for sure."

The defensive display was one that got a lot of attention across the conference. In fact, DJ Wonnum's efforts were enough to earn him the honor of being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

"He's something to be reckoned with," Sawyer said. "If he keeps coming along and playing like he is, it gives our defense (more of an) edge."

"DJ's played extremely well this year," Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp said. "He's just a steady hand. You know you're going to get really good production out of him."

Make no mistake about it. The Gamecocks are proud of what they accomplished against Arkansas. Now, they just want to make sure they're able to do that every week.

"I think the biggest challenge is consistency in your performance, week in and week out, continuing to play well," Muschamp said. "That's something we haven't necessarily done as an entire team, much less as a defensive unit… Consistency is really important to have the type of program we want to have."

South Carolina travels to Tennessee this Saturday at noon.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved.