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Has my South Carolina Gamecock defense returned to me?

I’ve waited three seasons for my defense to return, is this finally the year?

South Carolina v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Back in the days before instant information technology, people had to wait for the news to come to them via word of mouth or delivered paper.

Crazy, I know.

Imagine what it’s like being an Atlanta Braves fan having to sit through the night not knowing what was going on in the game because you lived too far away from the radio broadcast. You would have to find a way to sleep and wait until next morning to find out the final score when the paper was delivered to your door.

Even worse, think about what it was like when family member left the house? One of the saddest things I could imagine is being the wife of a man who was sent off to fight in the Civil War. You stand on your front porch, watch him ride off into the horizon without knowing if you’ll ever see him again and your only means of communication is written letters delivered by mail.

The woman waits until unset before turning back indoors when no hero showed home. The process repeats itself until one of three things happen: the hero comes home, the woman gives up or she receives the news her hero has died in battle.

Not to make this overly dramatic, but I’ve had a similar experience with my college football team.

When I was in school, the South Carolina Gamecocks defense was a stud. Armed with future NFL stars like Melvin Ingram and Stephon Gilmore, the defense helped carry South Carolina 42 wins in four seasons from 2010-2013. You couldn’t have asked for a better four years as a football fan while attending USC.

Every year when the season ended I would say farewell to my beloved Gamecock defense, giving it a peck on the cheek as it walked off into the horizon. But every fall it would meet me back in the front porch and we would embrace — excited for another season of star studded defense.

Following the 2013 season I said my normal goodbye as I had the previous three years — never thinking twice about what who would show back up at my front porch the following season.

But as I waited and stared longingly into the horizon, I never saw the silhouette of my precious defense growing larger as it approached my home. When Kenny Hill dropped 56 points on my beloved Gamecocks in the 2014 opener, I had my doubts of ever seeing the defense again.

I waited for three seasons for my Gamecock defense to return. Every fall I would wait on the front porch in hopes to embrace it once again, but every year I was disappointed when they didn’t return. As a bewildered lover, I was starting to become concerned.

I was afraid my elite pass rush and lockdown corners seemed lost forever until finally in 2017, I found a slight amount of hope.

Over the horizon I finally saw the signs of a return — the silhouette of something potentially great. Through two games of the 2017 season, is it possible my darling Gamecock defense has finally returned to me?

Enough of the cheesy civil war cliche’s, the Gamecock defense of the old Spurrier days might finally be rearing their head. I say “might” because we’re working off a two game sample, but in two games the Gamecocks have shown signs of life that have previously been absent in the last three seasons.

As of right now, the Gamecock’s defense is ranked 28th in defensive S&P+. That’s the highest it’s been since 2013 when Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles were on the defensive line. Saturday South Carolina held an offense that scored 72 points in week one to 13. There are places you can nitpick where you’d like to see the defense do better, but from where this unit was in 2015 this is a vast improvement.

No, the elite talent isn’t there yet. Jamyest Williams is a start and if Muschamp lives up to his billing as an elite recruiter other blue chippers should follow. For the first time in the Muschamp era, I feel hope. And this is coming from someone who said this when I first heard he was a prospective candidate for the job:

I’m still surprised I wasn’t put on some FBI watch list for potential bio-terrorism, but that’s then. I know it’s still early in the season, but so far I feel like I’ve been proven wrong. And as a fan, I’ll be happy to be wrong on this one.