After yielding 680 yards to Texas A&M last week, Lorenzo Ward revealed that there will be some changes to South Carolina's defensive lineup. The common theme in these decisions seems to be an effort to get bigger and more physical. And after that thing -- that horrible, horrible thing -- that happened a week ago, its certainly welcome news. TJ Gurley will start at strong safety in place of Chaz Elder; Rico McWilliams will start at cornerback in place of Al Harris, Jr; and if David Johnson is fully recovered from a toe injury by Saturday, he'll start at defensive end in place of Darius English.
That TJ Gurley needed to be on the field more was one of the biggest things I took away from rewatching the Texas A&M game. Not many South Carolina defenders were making plays, but No. 20 was flying to the ball and causing what little disruption to the Aggie passing game that the Gamecocks were able to muster. That Al Harris, Jr. was physically overmatched was also apparent. In retrospect, I don't know how we ever thought that a 162-pound true freshman starting at cornerback was something that might work.
David Johnson is the biggest defensive end on the Gamecocks' roster right now. At 275 pounds, he's more than 30 pounds heavier than Darius English. Getting more size on the field seems pretty necessary after the way Texas A&M pushed the front three/four last Thursday.
As for the varied defensive fronts, it doesn't look like those are going anywhere:
3-4 and 4-2-5 will fluctuate. Gamecocks have concentrated on fundamentals this week.— David Cloninger (@DCTheState) September 4, 2014