The Daily Gamecock

Depleted defense faces potent offense

Quarles, Williams ruled out for Saturday’s game

Normally when an FCS opponent comes in to play an FBS team, it’s a warm-up act for a bigger game down the road. But Coastal Carolina shouldn’t be much of one.

The Chanticleers that are coming into Williams-Brice Stadium this weekend are 10-1 on the season and are No. 7 in the most recent FCS coaches poll.

The most impressive thing about Coastal Carolina this season has been its offense. The Chanticleers are averaging 45.5 points per game and more than 512 yards of total offense per game, with a shade under 284 of those coming on the ground.

Throw in the fact that the Gamecocks have struggled with FCS teams the last couple years, and you have the recipe for an upset.

“From the standpoint of the secondary, it really doesn’t matter if they’re 1-AA,” secondary coach Grady Brown said. “With skill guys, if you’re good, you’re good. That doesn’t change very much, so that will be a good challenge for us this week.”

Even more challenging for the Gamecocks is that they will be without defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, safety Brison Williams and possibly defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

Quarles has had a recurring headache throughout the week, causing him to miss practice.

“I’ve got a bad habit of hitting people with my helmet and leading with my head,” Quarles said.

Williams has a bruised forearm, and Clowney is dealing with the same foot problems that he has had all season long. The junior practiced on Wednesday, but was sore again on Thursday.

“It’s going to bother him the rest of the season,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “I’ve got to do a good job of resting him. We’re going into the 11th game of the season. If he doesn’t know what we’re doing on defense now, he (will) never know.”

With a depleted defense, South Carolina has to face off against Coastal Carolina receiver Matt Hazel, who coach Steve Spurrier said could play for any team in the SEC. The senior has hauled in 49 passes this year for 734 yards and six touchdowns.

Coastal Carolina senior wide receiver DeMario Bennett spent two seasons with the Gamecocks before transferring to the Chanticleers. This season, Bennett has 570 receiving yards and four touchdowns and is no doubt ready for a shot at his old team.

“I know he’s going to be excited to come back and play in this stadium,” said redshirt junior defensive back Victor Hampton, who was around when Bennett was still with South Carolina. “I don’t think he ever got a chance to play (a lot) on this field, so I’m sure he is going to be ready to make some plays out there. So I’m going to come ready. I’m not going to take him lightly.”

While Coastal has two good receivers it can rely on, it also has a tailback who could also play for any team in the SEC. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro is a 6-foot-2, 230-pound bruiser who has averaged over 133 yards per game this season and has racked up 23 rushing touchdowns in 11 games.

The good mix of running and passing the Chanticleers have going for them this season has been the biggest reason they have the record they have.

“We are going to have to tough it up and stop the run, like we did the second half of last game and get them off the field,” Spurrier said. “They stay out there a bit (and) they are very good on third downs, because they have a lot of third-and-ones and third-and-twos. We’ve got to come ready to play.”


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