Nation's best 'D' leads Gamecocks

COLUMBIA --- If last week's three upsets in the top four weren't enough to indicate a crazy, college football season, how's this: Steve Spurrier owns the country's No. 1 defense.

That's right, the South Carolina coach famed for shredding top defenses with his Fun-'n-Gun attack during 12 seasons at Florida, now points with pride to his stout bunch of Gamecocks.

"That's pretty neat," he said Tuesday.

Through five games, South Carolina has allowed fewer than 222 yards a game, ahead of Arizona in second and Florida State in third. They're also second nationally against the pass with a 105-yard average under first-year coordinator Ellis Johnson.

"Yeah, I don't know that we ever had that before," Spurrier said with a grin.

It's probably a good thing, too, since the "Cock-'n-Fire" offense at South Carolina has yet to take off in Spurrier's fourth year. The Gamecocks (3-2, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) stand eighth in SEC scoring and total offense as they resume league play at Ole Miss on Saturday.

"I used to say that if we could get a defense around here just in the top half of the SEC, ... now that we've got one on top, we're struggling a little bit on offense," Spurrier said.

Spurrier has used three quarterbacks so far. None has thrilled him with their play.

Spurrier has all but given the starting nod to redshirt freshman Stephen Garcia, who's listed as starter on the team's weekly depth chart. Spurrier even put that on his Web site before backtracking the past couple of days.

The Gamecocks' coach says he'll wait until Thursday before choosing between sophomore Chris Smelley and Garcia.

On Tuesday, Spurrier was much sunnier about his offense's chances at turning things around at Ole Miss. Or maybe the idea of having the game's top performing defense had sunk in.

South Carolina's defenders had plenty to overcome this off-season. They finished ninth in the SEC last season, then watched three-year coordinator Ty Nix leave for Ole Miss and Brian VanGorder accept, then reject the position three weeks later. Spurrier finally settled on Johnson, who had led defenses at Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State.

The defense hasn't let its lofty status sway its focus.

"It doesn't matter how you start, it's how you finish," said linebacker Jasper Brinkley, a Thomson alum.

THE BEST OFFENSE IS A ...

A LOOK AT THE TOP 10 DEFENSES IN THE COUNTRY:

RECORDPASSRUSHTOTALPPGINT
South Carolina3-2525582221.412.84
Arizona3-1413474221.815.55
Florida State3-1625269223.510.01
Kentucky4-0616293227.35.55
Utah5-0856301231.419.64
TCU4-11,021147233.613.28
Florida3-1607357241.012.56
South Florida5-0925294243.816.86
Tulane2-2707274245.321.34
Southern California2-1458279245.712.33

Source: sports.yahoo.com

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