Cloninger Soundoff: Gamecocks defense needs to cash in with sacks

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on November 28, 2013 

Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk (7) is sacked by South Carolina Gamecocks defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (99) in the second half of their game at Faurot Field in Columbia, MO.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Skai Moore charged through the line and had Coastal Carolina quarterback Alex Ross in his sights. He stayed low, stretched out his arms and readied for the sack.

Ross slipped to his right as Moore sped by like an out-of-control locomotive. Ross scrambled free, found his feet and hit Lorenzo Taliaferro for a touchdown.

Any lasting damage? Of course not. South Carolina beat the Chanticleers 70-10.

But the almost-sack has been a running theme for USC.

The Gamecocks’ pass-rush has not had a great season, despite 19 sacks (seven by Kelcy Quarles). Opponents have double-teamed Jadeveon Clowney to take away one option, and Chaz Sutton hasn’t cleaned up the other side. USC is getting into the backfield but isn’t finishing the job when it does.

With Tajh Boyd coming to town, pressure is paramount. Boyd has been proven to get happy feet and be off his game when he gets pressured or knocked down early. He’s also gotten much better at escaping trouble, being able to throw on the run to a flock of speedsters at tailback and receiver.

USC has hit him high, low and in between the past three years. Clowney had a career against Boyd in one game last year. The Gamecocks’ chances of winning Saturday hinge on how well they can contain the Tigers’ offense.

There’s a reason why they say, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”

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