When the South Carolina Gamecocks take the field against the Georgia Bulldogs for their all-important conference opener, it should receive a boost to a secondary that was tortured against East Carolina last Saturday.
Junior DeVonte Holloman returns to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for his June arrest on a DUI charge. Holloman is currently listed second on the depth chart at the Spur (a hybrid safety/linebacker position) behind Antonio Allen, who had a breakout game against ECU. Allen recorded 16 total tackles, forced two fumbles, recovered two fumbles and broke up two passes in the Gamecocks' win.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said he'd like to keep Allen at the Spur because of the performance he turned in and has considered moving Holloman out of the Spur. Holloman practiced at the Spur Monday and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said Holloman will stay there Saturday.
“He’ll play Spur and the 'dime' linebacker spot in the dime package,” Ward said . “If you play as many plays as we did this past Saturday we’re going to need more than Antonio. DeVonte will have a chance to play.”
Ward also said that cornerback Akeem Auguste didn't practice Monday, but is expected to practice Tuesday. Auguste didn't travel with the team for the opener because of a foot injury.
The Gamecocks certainly could have used a healthy Auguste Saturday. Senior C.C. Whitlock started in Auguste's place, but it was junior Stephon Gilmore who gave up a few big plays through the air, especially on a few jump balls. Gilmore struggled some last season, but vowed change this spring. He and his coaches saw noticeable improvements in his game this spring, prompting some to consider him the top corner in the SEC because of his skill and potential.
I'm sure they'll catch some grief for that after the opening game ...
But South Carolina hasn't lost any confidence in Gilmore. It was a rough first game, but Ward said he expects Gilmore to rebound quickly.
“It was not up to par as far as his standards,” Ward said of Gilmore's play. “I fully expect Stephon to bounce back and have a great ball game this week. It came down to technique. He knows he made a mistake. He knows what he has to do. Stephon’s got to be a positive for this team if we’re going to be good."
In other Gamecocks news, South Carolina's depth chart was released for Week 2 and Stephen Garcia is listed as the No. 1 quarterback. Sophomore Connor Shaw started over Garcia against ECU, but struggled against the Pirates, completing 3 of 9 passes for 21 yards. Garcia replaced Shaw and finally got the offense rolling, as Garcia finished the game completing 7 of 15 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown. He also had 56 yards rushing, including touchdowns of 32 and 10 yards.
Maybe we can finally put the quarterback rotation in Columbia, S.C., to bed. Hopefully ...