SEC Power Rankings: Eastern division defenses

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September 15, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) and defensive end Aldrick Fordham (57) celebrate a Clowney sack against the UAB Blazers in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina Gamecocks

Defensive Coordinator: Lorenzo Ward (6th year)
2013 ranks – 51st vs. run, 12th vs. pass

Yes, the Gamecocks lost Jadeveon Clowney, but as good as he was, he did not make this Carolina defense what it is. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles broke into the top-five SEC rankings in sacks (nine) and tackles for loss (13.5), another big loss for the Gamecocks.

Spurrier has Gerald Dixon and Gerald Dixon Jr. (the half-brothers) stepping in at end and tackle respectively, and those two should prove to be as formidable a pair as you’ll see this season. J.T. Surratt is another fine defensive tackle that will help stuff the run for the Gamecocks.

But Carolina’s strength has been in their secondary, and this year they actually have some holes to fill and may not have the talent to do it. Better against the run, maybe lesser against the pass, this is still a top defense in the nation, and will be the reason why Carolina makes a run at SEC and national titles this season.