For nearly 2 1/2 seasons, South Carolina’s work up front was a source of near consistent frustration.
The defensive line was forever compared with the late Spurrier era, and the talent level was simply not close. The offensive line was always struggling.
It might not carry forward, but for one day, Saturday against Arkansas, the Gamecocks were good on both lines. That’s something worth paying attention to.
The defensive line was faced with an Arkansas offense that loved to load up on tight ends or play a fullback and get downhill on folks. But South Carolina almost never let those plays get downhill.
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Arkansas ran 23 times before the game got truly out of hand. Only six gained more than 4 yards. There were almost none of those runs where Arkansas reset the line of scrimmage, created seams and let backs hammer in for nice chunks of yardage.
That’s because the USC defensive line didn’t let it happen.
“Point of attack, they set the line of scrimmage,” linebacker T.J. Brunson said. “They played their tails off ... really thankful that they came out and showed out, did what they did.”
On the other side, Arkansas got the better of USC for a stretch. Tricky pressures from all over had Jake Bentley falling backwards on throws to avoid rushers. But USC adjusted, and then that line started hammering the Razorbacks.
On its two offensive drives in the third quarter, USC handed off again and again, getting the gains that move the chains with ease. For a unit down two starters and a top replacement, that meant something.
“I’m tremendously proud,” center Alan Knott said. “Getting those guys on the right page is a big task, but it’s something that coach (Eric Wolford) helped me with, and I think we did a great job tonight.”
Maybe it’s a step for a couple sometimes-beleagured units. Maybe it’s just one great night as part of a larger process.
In either case, the Gamecocks controlled the trenches in a way its fans haven’t seen in a long while.