COLUMBIA — The trendy thing in college football is to run an offense as fast as possible. Offensive coordinators use their stop watches as much for snap counts as 40 times.
Thats all well and good, South Carolinas defensive linemen say, but you wont see them getting flustered when North Carolina tries to push the pace in the two schools football season opener (6 p.m., ESPN).
Same thing we did against Clemson. Same thing we did against Missouri when they went hurry-up. Its just another team that wants to go fast, said defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris tries to run 90 plays per game. Missouri isnt far behind in its attempt to push tempo. South Carolina has beaten Clemson in their past four meetings and drilled SEC newcomer Missouri last season 31-10.
The Gamecocks have the best defensive player in the college game in end Jadeveon Clowney. Theyre coming off a season in which they had 43 sacks and limited opponents to 18.2 points per game. So the up-tempo offense Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora runs doesnt figure to fluster South Carolina.
Youve just got to match their tempo. And then youll slow them down, defensive end Chaz Sutton said.
Quarles offered specifics:
If you attack them, youll be fine, he said. A lot of times, when (defenses) see a hurry-up offense, they start playing passive. They dont know whats coming, and theyre so scared theyre going to get hurt with this play or that play.
You cant be passive. You cant think, Well, well give them that, well give them this. Youve got to dominate, whether theyre moving 100 mph or not at all. It doesnt matter how fast they want to go. If you dominate them up-front and get in their backfield, it doesnt matter how fast they go.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the key to dealing with hurry-up offenses is decisiveness. The less time an offense takes huddling, the less time a defense has to substitute or disguise coverages. That can make a defense look very predictable.
Spurrier said coaching can overcome that disadvantage.
There are a lot of strengths in (a hurry-up offense) if you can get up in there and work quickly. You know what defense theyre in all the time, he said.
Well try to get our guys lined right up, ready to go, and try to get our signals in quickly. We work on that all the time. Everybody in the country works like that. Well act like were prepared for it.
That preparation proceeded all summer. Quarles said the defense spent a lot of time the past few months studying video of North Carolinas spring game. The unit was evaluating the pace Fedora wants to play, and also the tendencies of Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 65 percent of his passes for nearly 280 yards a game last season.
He looks real good on film. Hes smart about checking out of bad plays when he sees something. He gets the ball out fast. One look one way and the ball is gone, Quarles said.
They go fast, they run zone-read. They do a lot, but like I said, if we dominate up front, it doesnt matter.
Bonnell: 704-358-5129; Twitter: @Rick_Bonnell