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South Carolina Gamecocks positional previews: Secondary

After an anxious 2014 season, this year's Gamecocks secondary aims to fly high and create takeaways.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Who's gone?

Larenz Bryant (moved to LB), Wesley Green (transferred to Indiana), Cedrick Malone (moved to LB), Kadetrix Marcus, Sidney Rhodes, Brison Williams

Who's back?

Toure Boyd, Jordan Diggs, Chaz Elder, Scott Grant, Ali Groves, T.J. Gurley, Al Harris Jr., Shannon James, Chris Lammons, Rico McWilliams, Chris Moody, Benji Russell, Jasper Sasser, D.J. Smith, Jamari Smith

Who's new?

Antoine Wilder, Darin Smalls, Jason Senn, Isaiah Johnson, Rashad Felton

Key Stat: 16

The 2014 Gamecocks secondary consisted of sixteen sophomores and freshman (a little over 3/4 of the entire unit). With that amount of youth scattered around your secondary, guys like true freshman Al Harris Jr. and Chris Lammons were through into the fire from the get go, which inevitably led to some growing pains along the way.

That said, the unit wasn't terrible, putting up average statistics on an otherwise bad defense. South Carolina ranked 52nd out of 125 FBS teams in passing yards allowed per game at 220.5. While the secondary was a respectable unit for most of the season, they didn't play with the same aggression as seen in years past. The Gamecocks were only able to secure eleven interceptions all year, a number that needs to rise in 2015.

The Scoop

With new co-defensive coordinator Jon Hoke working specifically with the secondary, be on the lookout for a more fundamentally sound unit this season focused on aggression and takeaways. As the younger players progress from last year, word out of camp suggests Hoke is focusing more on technique rather than scheme. With 32 years of coaching under his belt, he probably understands better than anyone else on that side of the ball the importance of the process and improving upon each day.

Some changes of note: Elder has moved to the corner spot, while Isaiah Johnson, the transfer from Kansas, will start at strong safety.