The South Carolina Gamecocks believe that their pass rush will be better in 2018, and it will need to be because of deficiencies in other areas.
South Carolina’s depth concerns on the back end of the defense are well-documented, but as the old adage says, a good pass rush can cover a lot of ills.
One of the central figures of that pass rush will be BUCK DJ Wonnum, who has been South Carolina’s most decorated defensive player when it comes to awards and watch lists. Wonnum led the team with 13 tackles for loss, including six sacks in 2017, a year where coaches said he played more than they had originally envisioned him to play.
The junior defensive lineman believes he still make a big jump this season.
While the Gamecocks have not released a depth chart, the front four across the line seem to be pretty set, with Aaron Sterling at one end, and Wonnum & Bryson Allen-Williams splitting time between BUCK and outside linebacker. On the interior, Javon Kinlaw and Keir Thomas have received the bulk of the first-team reps, with Shameik Blackshear getting more work between both the end and tackle positions.
One player who can be South Carolina’s main depth contributor on the interior with experience is Kobe Smith.
The junior played in all 13 games last season, and should see his role increase with the Gamecocks’ need for experience at defensive tackle.
Smith believes he’s up to the challenge, and has also provided guidance for incoming freshmen Rick Sandidge and JJ Enagbare:
To hear from South Carolina BUCK and Defensive End Coach Mike Peterson, who is also bullish on the Gamecocks pass rush, click below:
At Thursday’s practice, LS Ben Asbury, LB Eldridge Thompson, LB Rosendo Louis, S Jaylin Dickerson and S JT Ibe all were in pads and non-contact jerseys. Among those not seen at practice were S Tavyn Jackson and WR Randrecous Davis.
The Gamecocks now have all their practices closed to the media for the rest of the season. South Carolina will practice Friday morning and then scrimmage Saturday at noon at Williams-Brice Stadium.