Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Opening camp: South Carolina
By Chris Low
Schedule: Practice starts Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The first day in full pads is Saturday (Aug. 7).
What’s new: Shawn Elliott is South Carolina’s third different offensive line coach in as many years. He’ll also serve as the Gamecocks’ running game coordinator and brings with him from Appalachian State a version of the zone-read offense that South Carolina plans to incorporate into its package this season.
Sidelined: Tight end Weslye Saunders’ eligibility for the season remains in limbo after being questioned by NCAA representatives about alleged improper dealings with agents. It’s unclear how that investigation will affect his practice status.
Key battle: Akeem Auguste started nine games at cornerback last season, but he and Chris Culliver will be switching positions in 2010. If Auguste is going to remain in the starting lineup at free safety, he’ll have to hold off D.J. Swearinger, who was one of the stars of the spring.
New on the scene: Depending on how Stephen Garcia responds from being challenged publicly all offseason by Steve Spurrier, true freshman Connor Shaw could certainly see his share of snaps at quarterback. The Head Ball Coach was impressed with Shaw in the spring. Byron Jerideau, a 6-foot, 310-pound junior college newcomer, is being counted on at defensive tackle. Spurrier thinks true freshman Ace Sanders will fit in nicely as a slot receiver, while true freshman offensive linemen A.J. Cann, Tramell Williams and Ronald Patrick will all get a long look.
Breaking out: His former high school teammate, Stephon Gilmore, has already shown that he’s a budding star. Now it’s DeVonte Holloman’s turn at strong safety. The 6-3, 226-pound sophomore has all the tools to be a big-time player in this league.
Don’t forget about: Rodney Paulk has missed most of the last two seasons with knee injuries, but he returns as the Gamecocks’ starting middle linebacker. He’s started in 23 games during his career, but only one since the 2007 season. The NCAA recently granted Paulk a sixth year of eligibility, meaning he'll also be able to play during the 2011 season.
All eyes on: Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore. He’s perhaps the most important recruit that Spurrier has signed since arriving in Columbia in 2005. The jury is still out on South Carolina’s offensive line and will be until the Gamecocks prove otherwise. Lattimore is the kind of back with power, speed and acceleration that can make an offensive line look a lot better than it really is.
Quoting: “I think we’ve got the best group of athletes since we’ve been there. I know they have the best attitudes. Their work habits and so forth have been excellent. Now we need to get past seven wins. We need to win big at South Carolina.” – South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier