COLUMBIA – The defense did not display the dominance of South Carolina's initial fall scrimmage in the second one on Saturday.
That doesn't mean USC defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was disappointed with his unit's effort.
"I thought we were OK," said Ward. "We made some plays and gave up some plays. A lot of it had to do with the offense. They took the ball on the first series and scored. But I feel we got better."
The defense was dominant against the run in the first scrimmage, but not as much in the second. Despite starting tailback Mike Davis tallying only 15 yards on three carries before exiting, the offense rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 29 attempts.
The defense did a decent job controlling the passing game as USC quarterbacks completed 24 of 40 throws for 254 yards and one touchdown. The defense came up with two interceptions.
As the Gamecocks prepare to game plan for its season opener against Texas A&M, Ward has settled on a tentative starting lineup in the secondary.
"It's kind of close at the safety spot, but I think it would be Chaz Elder and Chris Moody with T.J. Gurley and Kadetrix Marcus real, real close," said Ward. "At corner, it's probably going to be Brison Williams at one corner and Al Harris Jr. at the other."
Since switching from safety Williams has been the top performer in the secondary, while Harris gained and has maintained an advantage over fellow freshmen Chris Lammons and Wesley Green by spending both summer sessions in Columbia working with the team.
Moody has had a strong fall, earning an edge over Marcus at strong safety.
Elder displayed glimpsed of solid play as a freshman, but never reached full potential following two concussions.
"You can tell Chaz is older and more comfortable with the defense," said USC secondary coach Grady Brown. "He knows his assignments and maybe a little more about what is going on around him. You can definitely see his comfort level is higher this year in the defense."
Gurley has also had a solid fall after playing at less than 100 percent a year ago as he was recovering from a knee injury the year before.
"He's coming along and getting better," Brown said of Gurley. "There were things in the scrimmage I would have liked to see him do better. He knows that. He would like to have done them better.
"But he's getting better, getting healthy and slowly getting back to his normal form."
The play of all four athletes at safety appears to have made Ward and Brown more confident leaving Williams at corner.
All three freshmen appear on the team's two-deep depth chart.
The team still must find consistency at defensive end, which has long been a team strength.
Darius English played the entire scrimmage after missing a few days due to a hamstring injury, as did Cedrick Cooper who was out a few days with a minor knee injury.
The Gamecocks must prove they have the talent to consistently provide an adequate pass rush from its ends in the 4-2-5 set.
Ward spent the second scrimmage working on both defenses the team will employ this season, the 4-2-5 and the 3-4.
"They're both the same," said Ward. "They're both pretty good. The kids are doing a great job of doing one successfully, going to the other and being able to adjust.
"I'm pretty comfortable with all the guys on defense right now. We're still not there. We still have (11) days or so to get ready. We're close."