USC’s Moore named SEC Defensive Player of the Week

South Carolina's Skai Moore (10) celebrates with Chris Lammons (3) after intercepting a North Carolina pass in the end zone during the first half against North Carolina last Thursday night. (David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer/TNS)

COLUMBIA — A sign this South Carolina defense might indeed be different? One week into the season, and the Gamecocks already have an SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

The league’s first weekly honor went to USC junior linebacker Skai Moore, who had 10 tackles and two interceptions in last Thursday’s 17-13 season-opening victory over North Carolina in Charlotte. Moore’s two interceptions each came in the end zone, the latter with 3:29 remaining to seal USC’s 15th season-opening win in the past 16 years.

Moore, from Cooper City, Fla., has led the Gamecocks in tackles in each of the past two seasons. He now has nine career interceptions, five off the school record of 14 set by Bo Davies from 1969-71.

South Carolina did not have a defensive player honored by the SEC last season, when its defense finished next-to-last in the league. In response, the Gamecocks hired former NFL assistant Jon Hoke as new co-coordinator, added several new players and switched to a 4-3 scheme.

The Gamecocks return to Williams-Brice Stadium for their home and SEC opener this Saturday, set for 7:30 p.m. against Kentucky. The game will be televised by SEC Network.