COLUMBIA, S.C. — Will Muschamp left Mississippi State last Saturday wanting to see physicality from Chris Lammons. The South Carolina cornerback gave the coach what he was looking for in the following days of practice, but that response led to questions.
“I said, ‘Why don’t you do it on game day? You obviously are capable of it,’” Muschamp said.
Muschamp’s blunt review of Lammons a week ago stated the need to tackle. The Gamecocks coach put those issues on himself for not drawing it out of Lammons after seeing his player respond.
There was no need to own up to any struggles for Lammons in Saturday’s 20-15 win against East Carolina. The junior cornerback forced a fumble, recorded a sack, delivered a big open-field hit and had an interception at the 1-yard line against the Pirates.
Lammons made his presence known early when he came unseen on a cornerback blitz. He got to ECU quarterback Philip Nelson, but initially missed. Defensive end Keir Thomas cleaned up the play, wrapping up Nelson’s ankles and giving Lammons the time to come back into the play. He sacked Nelson, knocking the ball loose into the hands of Dante Sawyer in ECU territory.
“It felt great just going out there and making a play,” Lammons said. “I wasn’t too into it about the media and about being physical. The coaches know I can be physical. I just made a play.”
He made another play when he raced up in space to crack ECU running back Anthony Scott for a 4-yard loss on a swing pass. But Lammons’ play of the day came after halftime in the red zone.
The Pirates raced down the field to open the third quarter before Lammons snuffed out the drive with a diving interception at the 1-yard line.
“They threw the back corner fade on Chris Lammons, who made a fantastic play on that ball,” Muschamp said. “People don’t understand how difficult a play that is.”
The play was one of three key red-zone stops the Gamecocks had to make to hold on for the win in their home opener.
Lammons finished with career highs in tackles (8) and tackles for loss (2) to go with his first career sack and forced fumble.
“I left some plays out there in the Mississippi State game, plays (Muschamp) knew I could have made,” Lammons said. “He just called me out because he wants the best for me.”