Inside of South Carolina’s meeting room are a few balls on sticks (on the wall I believe) so that players can walk by and practice punching and poking at the football to help ingrain a consistent mindset of creating turnovers at every open opportunity. Surely they’re not the first, or last, program to do that, but it’s clear daily the defensive staff puts a very high value on forcing turnovers.
Last year Will Muschamp’s squad was top ten nationally in in takeaways on defense, and led the SEC. This season they’re continuing to double-down on that approach and have created a unique language within their defensive culture to see that it happens, according to an article by The State.
Here’s a brief excerpt from that article with defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson explaining the emphasis.
“When we are watching tape, you will see a guy say, ‘We missed a punch opportunity right there, coach,’ ” Robinson said. “We don’t say, ‘We missed a turnover opportunity.’ They say, ‘We missed a punch,’ so I know he’s thinking what we’re thinking. We always talk about it, everything we do.”
“Forcing a turnover” or “missing a turnover opportunity” are both too generic a term for Robinson and his staff, and they prefer to get specific with terms like “chop,” “tomahawk,” “uppercut,” or “punch” to drive their point home.
Assistant head coach / defensive line coach Lance Thompson compares their obsession with turnovers to how some people need to read the Bible every day. It’s that serious to them, and Thompson believes they emphasize unlike anyone else in the country.