COLUMBIA -- A year ago, South Carolina was tied for fifth in the Southeastern Conference (Alabama and Georgia) with 26 takeaways (16 fumbles, 10 interceptions).

The Gamecocks defense has had some issues causing turnovers during the preseason. Defensive head coach Ellis Johnson isn't that concerned -- at least not yet.

"You can't hit the quarterbacks, so I don't see how you can turn the ball over," Johnson said. "We're not tackling that well, I'll agree with that, but when you can't hit the quarterback, that's where all of your turnovers come from. Bad passes you can break on and pick off, but if you don't touch the quarterback, you're not going to get a lot of turnovers."

Johnson does tip his hat to the offense and its ability to secure the ball.

"I think our offense has done a good job of taking care of the ball when they are running with it," Johnson said. "We're not creating any fumbles, and that tells me we're not being very physical."

Like any veteran defensive coach, Johnson thinks the team needs to tackle more during practice.

"Only the great ones can do it once a week and be good at tackling," Johnson said. "I don't think you can ever tackle enough. But how much is enough? You can't get injuries. You look at the film and you notice that about 25 kids have never tackled a college running back."

Quarles won't redshirt

Freshman Kelcy Quarles will play both defensive end and defensive tackle this season.

Quarles, who attended Fork Union Military last year, was used at both positions during Saturday's scrimmage and again during Monday's practice.

USC defensive line coach Brad Lawing told Quarles that he will not redshirt this year.

"Coach (Lawing) told me my redshirt year was last year at Fork Union," Quarles said. "Defensive end or defensive tackle, it doesn't make any difference to me. I'm probably more comfortable at defensive tackle, but I'm going to do whatever I need to do to get on the field."

Carson making push

Freshman running back Shon Carson is making a strong push to play this season.

A two-sport star at Lake City High School, Carson led rushers during this past Saturday's scrimmage with 56 yards on nine attempts. Carson is battling Eric Baker and Kenny Miles for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart behind All-SEC running back Marcus Lattimore.

"Shon ran well," USC coach Steve Spurrier said. "Kenny Miles is still the backup, but Shon is playing well."

Carson said he's adjusting to the speed of the college game.

"It's a lot different than high school," said Carson, who will play baseball for the Gamecocks. "I felt like I played well. I think I'm adjusting to the speed of the game. I don't want to redshirt; I want to get on the field, so I know this is my opportunity to open some eyes."

Free safety depth

With Brison Williams most likely done for the season with a broken arm, Johnson is searching for a backup to Jimmy Legree.

Freshman Sharrod Golightly, who is listed as the No. 3 strong safety on the depth chart, is going to play both positions during the preseason.

"Right now it's kind of scramble," Johnson said. "It's thin back there right now. We've got some major, major depth problems in the secondary. We moved Golightly over there and he's working both a little bit. Brison loss is a huge blow. He does a lot of good things, he does some things better than Jimmy did."