South Carolina spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
9:50
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

South Carolina Gamecocks
2008 overall record: 7-6

2008 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters

Offense: 5, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Stephen Garcia, WR Dion LeCorn, WR Moe Brown, OT Jarriel King, DE Cliff Matthews, LB Eric Norwood, S Chris Culliver, S Darian Stewart

Key losses

QB Chris Smelley, RB Mike Davis, WR Kenny McKinley, TE Jared Cook, OT Jamon Meredith, LB Jasper Brinkley, CB Captain Munnerlyn, S Emanuel Cook

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Mike Davis (573 yards)
Passing: Chris Smelley (1,922 yards)
Receiving: Kenny McKinley (642 yards)
Tackles: Emanuel Cook (87)
Sacks: Eric Norwood* (9)
Interceptions: Stoney Woodson (4)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 3 at North Carolina State
Sept. 12 at Georgia
Sept. 19 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 24 Ole Miss
Oct. 3 South Carolina State
Oct. 10 Kentucky
Oct. 17 at Alabama
Oct. 24 Vanderbilt
Oct. 31 at Tennessee
Nov. 7 at Arkansas
Nov. 14 Florida
Nov. 28 Clemson
Spring answers

Garcia's awakening: It was the first time that Stephen Garcia had gone through a spring practice at South Carolina, and he at last looked the part of a starting quarterback. Garcia played with more poise, more maturity and took it upon himself to be a leader on offense. The trick now is taking that approach into the fall against SEC defenses.

Immediate help: The Gamecocks won't have to wait long to see what they have in cornerback Stephon Gilmore, safety DeVonte Holloman and running back Jarvis Giles. All three true freshmen enrolled early and made their presence felt this spring. There's a chance that all three could end up starting at some point next season.

New blood on offense: Steve Spurrier overhauled his offensive coaching staff, and a big emphasis this spring was placed on establishing the right kind of mentality up front in the offensive line and beefing up the running game. Spurrier liked what he saw along those lines with Eric Wolford, the Gamecocks' new running game coordinator and offensive line coach.

Fall questions

Offensive punch: The jury's still out on whether the Gamecocks have enough firepower to move the ball and score points against the defenses they're going to be facing each week in the SEC. Garcia's development is a key, but the offensive line also has to get a lot better and more playmakers need to emerge at running back and receiver to improve on last season's dismal showing.

Backing up Garcia: Don't be surprised if Spurrier has bodyguards following Garcia's every move this summer. If he gets in trouble again or happens to get injured, the Gamecocks are in big trouble. They don't have anybody behind him at this point who's remotely ready to play at quarterback. Spurrier said the Gamecocks will have a special package in place for Gilmore, who played quarterback in high school.

Inexperience in the secondary: South Carolina will be talented in the secondary, but frighteningly young. In addition to Gilmore and Holloman, cornerback Akeem Auguste is a sophomore who played last season as a true freshman. Sophomore cornerback C.C. Whitlock was suspended for the final part of spring practice. He's blessed with gobs of talent if he would ever get his act together off the field.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?