Will Muschamp’s first season at South Carolina is a thing of the past. The Gamecocks went 6-7, made it to a bowl game and had a signature win in an upset of then-No. 18 Tennessee.
So now, it’s time to consider the successes and failures of Muschamp’s first team. The defense found a pleasant surprise in the secondary, but saw struggles in the front seven.
We take a look back at the defense’s performances and assign positional grades:
Senior Darius English was the saving grace of the unit when it came to pressuring the quarterback. English had 9 sacks – one of the best single-season totals in school history. Taylor Stallworth had an impressive junior season at tackle. But as a whole, the group struggled to consistently pressure the quarterback and win in the trenches. With those struggles, the defense didn’t stop the run with much success in the second half of the season.
Grade: C –
Three players took most of the snaps at linebacker: Bryson Allen-Williams, T.J. Holloman and Jonathan Walton. They started out the season well, but weren’t as effective in the second half. Only Allen-Williams returns in 2017. The defensive line’s struggles to win at the point of attack made the linebackers’ job harder. Missed tackles were an issue, but the group did chip in on the overall turnover success of the defense.
The unit that had to be giving Muschamp the greatest concern heading into the season proved to be the biggest surprise. Junior Chris Lammons stepped up to make 3 interceptions and responded to an early season challenge to be more physical after Muschamp called him out – though not by name publicly – for his showing against Mississippi State . Junior Jamarcus King slid into the starting lineup early and had a huge hand in the win against Tennessee. The unit did well, forcing turnovers and allowing little more than 200 yards passing per game.