White wants to run 'multiple, aggressive' 4-2-5
Clayton White admitted in his introductory press conference Saturday was an emotional day, in a good way, after being named the Gamecocks’ defensive coordinator.
But Sunday, as he officially started at South Carolina, it was a workday and priority number one is installing his new defensive scheme that’s a little different than what South Carolina’s run recently.
“My history, my past, has been an aggressive version of a 4-2-5; it’s a very multiple version of a 4-2-5 defense. We’re able to do what we need to do and adapt to the talent we have,” White said.
“Every single week your defense isn’t going to be a different defense but things may have to adjust and things change. For the most part, we base out of a 4-2-5. Sometimes it may start out the game as a 4-3 or a 4-4 or a 3-4 defense."
The Gamecocks spent the last five years running either a 4-3 or 3-3-5 defense, but White is bringing a system back to South Carolina for the first time since Ellis Johnson ran it under Steve Spurrier.
White, a two-time nominee for the Broyles Award given to the nation’s top assistant, installed this system when he took over in 2017 as Western Kentucky’s defensive coordinator and it’s proven him well since.
The Hilltoppters allowed 5.5 yards per play or fewer in three of White’s four seasons, including 5.2 yards per play in 2019 and 5.1 this season.
“It’s multiple, aggressive scheme that allows our players to play fast. It allows our defensive line to attack up front. It allows our linebackers to be downhill and read great keys,” White said. “They have an opportunity to play fast. Our DBs are going to be up close in coverage. Our DBs, when they’re blitzing, they’re going to be blitzing on purpose. That’s the mindset.”
The 4-2-5 is a base defense with four down defensive linemen—two tackles and two ends—with two linebackers, four defensive backs and then a hybrid kind of player who can serve as a linebacker or defensive back depending on the scenario.
It’s similar to the Spur position Johnson ran, and it’s designed to give the Gamecocks a flexible piece in either the run game or in coverage.
“The most important thing with a 4-2-5 is that’s another guy who can do multiple things. As we’re going through the process evaluating the roster, I’m asking that question. Can he run? Can he hit? Can he cover? What kind of cover guy is he?” White said. “That guy has to be a player who can do multiple things. I’m starting to feel good we have a couple tags on our defense that can slide into that nickel spot.”
White’s defensive staff is in place now with the Gamecocks hiring Torrian Gray as defensive backs coach to round things out Monday night.
Mike Peterson (outside linebackers) and Tracy Rocker (defensive line) are also on staff and are helping White get acquainted to this roster before spring practice.
“Coach Peterson and coach Rocker are the ones who have been here in the past and are here now,” White said. “They’ve been phenomenal in regards of giving me information and have film on how my defense will adjust here. It’s looking pretty good right now."