Smart. Competitive. Versatile. Mature.
Those were the words Kyle Krantz used multiple times to describe South Carolina’s secondary.
“We have a really good culture right now,” Krantz said when meeting with reporters on Thursday. “We have guys that set the standard and we have guys that are willing to follow the standard.”
“The beautiful thing in our room right now is we’ve got a lot of guys that can play and a lot of guys that have played,” said Krantz, the SC nickelback and Sam linebackers coach. “The competition is on. And they know that. Across the board, the guys know they can’t take their foot off the gas.”
Krantz, who’s beginning his fourth year at South Carolina and his second in an on-field coaching role, also assists Coleman Hutzler with special teams.
Here are six takeaways from what Krantz told reporters:
1) South Carolina has its most talented group of defensive backs since he joined the staff
“It’s changed. It’s changed. We’ve got a bunch of corners that we feel comfortable in playing man coverage who can cover. And that’s not to say we’re going to play all man or all zone. But I feel more comfortable now than I have since I’ve been here.”
“… It’s a great feeling. It’s good to have guys who have done it in the past and have guys who can do it, and we have a mixture of both.”
2) Jaycee Horn and Israel Mukuamu set the tone
“Their attitude, their energy, their work ethic, it’s contagious. It’s infectious. And it’s taken over the room. Those two, along with some of the upperclassmen, have set the standard for the freshmen. ‘This is how we work. This is how we meet. And this is why it’s important.’
“[Jaycee], he’s rare. It’s rare [that he came in so poised and skilled]. But we’ve got a group now, I think these guys are all pretty mature and are the same way. Part of that maturity comes with the culture of the room. We have a really good culture right now.”
3) Freshmen Jammie Robinson and Shilo Sanders have impressed
“He’s really competitive. He’s got heavy hands. He can cover and he’s smart,” Krantz said of Robinson. ”He’s shown the ability to learn nickel and safety. That’s a good skill to have on our defense.”
On Sanders, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, Krantz said, “He’s really competitive. Heavy-handed. Wants to do well. Wants to be successful. He’s got a lot of traits for a successful DB.”
4) Jamyest Williams has a chip on his shoulder and is ready to lead
“I expect Jam to be a leader. I think we all do, as a staff. You know, he’s been in the room the longest out of anyone. I mean, J.T. [Ibe] is older, but [Jam] has been here the longest. We expect him to show the way and set the standard of, ‘This is how we operate. This is how we meet. This is how we practice. And this is how we play.’ He’s another guy who can play nickel and function and be really good.”
“I think Jam’s extremely motivated. I don’t know if that’s his motivation, but I do know he’s extremely motivated and wants to be successful.”
5) South Carolina’s coaches believe blocking punts leads to wins
“It’s a big emphasis. I’d say it’s a big stat in football and it’s what we’re going to get after and try to do. … We identify players who we think can do it early and we’ll go through that and find out who the guys are we feel can get there and do that job.”
“… We’ve got guys earmarked, but we’ll go through it and see who shows up. We’ve got a bunch of good guys to look.”
6) Several players are in the mix to return kickoffs and punts
“We’re going to compete and go through it. We’re excited. Shi [Smith], I think is a guy that can do it. A.J. [Turner] can do it. And we’ve got to look at the freshmen and see where we’re at with that.”