COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur) - When the South Carolina defense takes the field, it better be ready to run. North Carolina sports an up-tempo style of offense that is going to run as many plays as possible over four quarters on Thursday night at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora, who is one of a dwindling number of college head coaches who calls his own plays, wants to wear down the opposing defense and not give it a chance to make adjustments.
Since that's not a big secret, the Gamecocks have tailored their summer workouts and conditioning to North Carolina's style of play. Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles believes that South Carolina will be ready to run when the ball kicks off on Thursday night at 6 p.m.
"First of all, you have to have good summer conditioning and be in good shape," Quarles said of countering the quick-tempo offense. "Second of all, you have to practice hard. Third of all, you have to get lined up. If you can do those things and stay in good playing shape, you're going to be fine.
"We've been working hard all summer but we've been anticipating this game. Yeah, they're going to go fast. Yeah, they're a good team. If we match their pace and their tempo, we're going to be fine."
Quarles is a key piece to the South Carolina defensive line, which returns two of its four starters from a year ago. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, along with Quarles, will welcome tackle J.T. Surratt and end Chaz Sutton to the starting ranks in 2013.
Both are upperclassmen and have considerable experience, just very few starts between them. While the two newcomers to the starting roles haven't seen the amount of on-field action at South Carolina as they will on Thursday, both have put in the work during the offseason to make sure they're prepared.
"We just have to stay in condition," Quarles said. "We have to make sure we get the calls, play in the right gap and go out there and play football at a good tempo. If we do that, we should be good."
South Carolina had some practice last season with up-tempo offenses. The defense held Missouri to 255 yards of total offense in a 31-10 victory at Williams-Brice Stadium. The last regular season game of the year, the Gamecocks held rivals Clemson to its second-lowest offensive output of the year in a 27-17 win.
While Quarles says the defense is ready for the challenging pace the Tar Heels, which finished 8-4 last season, present, he's just eager to see a different colored uniform across the line of scrimmage.
After 28 days of practice against the same players, Quarles will see red when he sees that first baby blue jersey.
"I'm ready to hit somebody else," Quarles said. "I'm tired of hitting the same people. I'm ready for this game, been waiting on it all year, and we're ready to show what we can do."