Defense's newcomers to be tested early in season opener for Gamecocks

Defense's newcomers to be tested early in season opener for Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The school year may have just started, but the South Carolina Gamecocks defense will face their first test in the Belk College Kickoff.

A year ago, USC surrendered just under 21 points per game. But this year's unit has a few different pieces that offer a few different intangibles. Still, Muschamp believed his guys a willingness to play tougher after going through a rigorous camp over the last month.

"Our guys embraced it," Muschamp said. "I don't know that we walked out of any practice or meeting and didn't feel good about making some positive progress. But again, you've got to do it on gameday. I told one of the staff members walking back from practice it's been a fun group to be around as far as how they've gone about their business. They practice the right way and go about their business the right way. So, it's been fun."

The Gamecocks enter this weekend's contest replacing 12 seniors on defense. But even with a few new faces taking over in spots for USC, Muschamp is optimistic heading into the season opener.

"They still haven't lined up in front of 80,000 people yet," said Muschamp about his new guys. "That doesn't change anything, but I like the ability. I talked about Eldridge Thompson and Sherrod Greene earlier. They're good football players. They just haven't necessarily done it in this setting before. So, I'm excited about seeing both of those guys play on Saturday."

To help the defense's newcomers, Muschamp told reporters that the coaching staff has taken steps to help the players do what they do best on the field.

"We've cut back a little bit, maybe volume wise, in what we do," Muschamp said. "D.J. Smith can handle everything we want to do. Chris Lammons can handle everything. Skai Moore, those guys, they can handle everything.  Well, what if they're not in the game? You've got to be careful about what you're calling in those situations with the combination of different players you might have in the game. So, those are things that we've had a lot of discussions about in the last 10 days of what exactly do we do best with this player in the game and what can he execute. They may go in motion so we've got to make an adjustment in those situations."

The Gamecocks will test their defensive skill in Charlotte at Bank of America Stadium against NC State on Saturday at 3 p.m.

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