South Carolina Gameccocks Defense: 1st Quarter Report Card

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 03: Reginald Bowens #32 South Carolina Gamecocks celebrates with teammate Shaq Wilson #54 after recovering a fumble during their game against the East Carolina Pirates at Bank of America Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)


With the Gamecocks now 4-0 and one game left to close out the month of September, it's time for a first quarter report card. Afterall, we're 4 games into Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward's first year at the helm. I though it would be a good time to take a look at things. How do things look? Well on the surface, they look pretty good. I have been pleased with the performance of the defense so far. By that I mean, to say that we haven't given up more than 13 points in a single game. Overall things have been going well.

Sure, we all have some concerns. Mostly they center around lack of depth in the secondary and some poor plays from the secondary here and there. But overall things are good. To qualify that, we are ranked #19 in the country in total defense, allowing 300.3 yards per game. That's down a bit from last year. In 2011, the Gamecocks were 3rd in the country, behind LSU and Alabama, and yielded 267.7 yards per game last year. *Side note, Alabama was just disgusting last year, yielding 183.6 yards per game.

Now comes a role reversal with our passing and rushing defense. This year we are #73 versus the air attack, yielding 233.3 yards per game and #8 on the ground yielding 67.00 yards per game. Compare that to 2011: #45 allowing 136.00 yards per game on the ground; and against the pass we were #2 yielding 131.7 yards per game.

There are a lot of variables to consider. Including which players left and the new defensive coordinator. After the jump we really dive into some of the statistics, all obtained from CFBstats.com .

Categorical Stats and Rankings
Average National Rank
Scoring Defense 9.8 #8
Passing Defense 233.3 #73
Rushing Defens 67.00 #8
Total Defense 300.3 #19

That's pretty good. Not necessarily Alabama good. But SEC respectable right? I'd say so. We are also 19th in total defense when counting yards per play at 4.50 yards allowed per plays. Comparatively, Georgia is 38th at 4.87 and Florida is actually 14th at 4.37. While we are looking at Georgia and Florida, in total defense yards per game the Bulldawgs are 45th at 343 total yards per game, and the Gators have allowed an average of 305.0, good for 20th, one spot below the Gamecocks.

This is all well and good. But how has our competition been? Sadly, not very good. See the table below how our previous opponents rank in total offense, scoring offense and passing offense.

Total Offense (rank) vs USC Passing Offense (rank) vs USC Rushing Offense (rank vs USC Scoring (rank) vs USC
Vanderbilt 384 (80th) 276 214.3 (82nd) 244 169.75 (60th) 62 21.8 (100th) 13
ECU 313.5 (110th) 403 217.5 (76th) 333 96.00 (117th) 70 18.8 (112th) 10
UAB 376.3 (84th) 267 274.7 (35th) 240 101.67 (113th) 27 16.7 (118th) 6
Missouri 349 (99th) 255 199.5 (97th) 146 149.57 (78th) 109 29 (59th) 10

There is only one offensive category listed in which one of our opponents rank inside the top 50, UAB is the 35th best passing team in the country right now with 274.7 yards per game through the air. The only thing that is troubling on this list as a South Carolina fan is how many yards we gave up in the secondary. Still though, the other three opponents have had less success than their aggregates against the Gamecock defense. And a particularly strong performance against the best passing offense we have seen this year is a hopeful sign of improvement. As we gave up less yards through the air against UAB, and most importantly we limited Missouri's passing attack without the help of D.J. Swearinger.

One thing that we noticed in the first few games was a bend but don't break defense. We seemed to give up a lot of yards in the middle of the field but became incredibly stout in the red zone. Look at our Opponent Red Zone Conversions stats. We are #11 in the country with 62.50 of our opponents converting those trips into points. We have face 8 attempts in 4 games with 5 red zone conversions. 1 touchdown and 4 field goals. There are several teams tied with us at first with only one red zone touchdown allowed. That group does not include Alabama, which in 5 red zone opportunities, its opponents have 2 touchdown, no field goals. We are also, first in TD%, 12.50% of red zone appearances have lead to a touchdown.

I am hopeful that the best is yet to come for our defense, but I want to caution anyone that is bragging at the water cooler. We have a good defense, certainly with some tremendous athletes, but we haven't yet seen a very high level of competition. At least statistically speaking that is.

Until next time..... GO COCKS!!!!

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