As excited as I am about South Carolina winning the Tennessee game and continuing to control its own destiny for an SEC East championship and a shot at the whole SEC, one little seed crept into my head.
It is something I have been putting off all season, making excuses: Oh, it's the system; oh, the players are just having a rough year; oh, the teams have to pass more because they are down.
I can't put off saying it any longer.
South Carolina's pass defense is undeniably, unequivocally, absolutely AWFUL.
South Carolina is currently giving up 259.9 yards per game in the air, which ranks 98th in the country. That is ridiculous.
One has to wonder why. These are the same players who put up great pass defense numbers in 2009. This is the same Stephon Gilmore, Chris Culliver, Akeem Aguste and C.C. Whitlock who shut down opposing wide receivers.
Luckily, South Carolina's run defense ranks 11th in the country and the offense is scoring pretty much at will.
If it wasn't for that, South Carolina would be in a lot of trouble at this point.
The most concerning thing is that it doesn't seem to be getting better; it seems to be getting worse.
South Carolina gave up massive yardage against Tennessee and Kentucky. They looked lost and confused. Corners were giving up their man expecting help deep, when no help was there. Soft zone coverages have allowed receivers to get open for large chunks of yards.
Again, I ask, what in the world is going on?
The defensive line and linebackers have played lights out all season long. The defensive line in particular has become a regular nightmare for opposing quarterbacks—coming into last week's game they were tied for second in the country in sacks.
They may need to get about seven or eight against Arkansas in order for the Gamecocks to beat them. Currently, Arkansas is ranked second in the country in passing, with 360.3 yards per game.
If Carolina can't find some way to slow down the pass, the Razorbacks could score 50 or more points against the SEC East leaders.
Thank goodness that game doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
It all comes down to the Florida game, which is a favorable matchup for the Gamecocks. This Florida team only racks up 190 passing yards per game and has the 78th-ranked offense in the country.
However, something has to happen here. No one is sure what is going on, but defensive coach Ellis Johnson needs to earn his money. You have talent, now figure out a way to make it work.
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