Basically anyone who follows South Carolina Gamecocks football will tell you that the defense wasn't that good in 2014. Whether that was thanks to Lorenzo Ward, a significant dropoff from when Jadeveon Clowney was playing, or just not good enough personnel is up for debate.
This season should be a little different, at least at the defensive end position. Last July, the Gamecocks were able to snag a key addition to their front four by getting a verbal from JUCO star Marquavius Lewis. Make no mistake, as soon as Lewis decided that he was going to suit up for South Carolina, there was no way that he wasn't going to be a starter for this team. He was a sack machine in 2014, recording 11.0 of them to go along with 20.5 TFLs. (In contrast, South Carolina defenders combined for fourteen sacks last season. Think that's why they decided to recruit him so heavily?)
The staff has completely retooled the defensive line but Lewis is important because he provides the hope. He's the one with the sparkling credentials, the one who is physically ready to dominate from the second he steps onto campus and the one who has instant All-SEC potential...There isn’t a player on the roster right now that rivals him in terms of being a complete defensive end. He’s entered with similar hype as (Jadeveon) Clowney...
One thing I marveled at when looking at Lewis' highlights is how he's extremely quick off the line, as well as his overall footwork, showing great ability to either completely neutralize or take the edge off of his man and create pressure on the quarterback. On rush plays, his overall awareness of where the ball is allows him to quickly identify developing plays—coupled with his speed, he can wipe those out for negative yardage. Even when it looks like he is beaten, he just shows that innate ability to almost immediately adjust and pick up on what's going on. The things I just mentioned are part of what the Gamecocks lacked last year (and part of why guys like Kenny Hill were able to pass for 511 yards or why Auburn and Tennessee combined for 739 yards rushing in two games).
It's clear from what I've seen and heard, and from what the word on the street about him is, that Lewis has the opportunity to become among the top defensive ends in the SEC, if not the country. Sure, it will be a little different up in FBS than it was at JUCO, but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that Lewis will make an immediate impact on a defense that needs to assert itself if they're to be better than their 7-6 record last year.