SPRING PRACTICE TIDBITS
The Gamecock nation anxiously awaits the Spring Game on April 15th. Here are a few interesting storylines:
1) Dominant defensive line. The Gamecock defensive front of Monte Lewis, Jameson Wadley, Demitrio Tyson and Big Texas Garrott has made it very difficult for the offense to develop any continuity. This could be one of the best defensive lines in FCS. Tyson in particular is really turning heads with the athleticism he first showed stopping a reverse against Florida State a couple of years ago. The Defensive Line is working against a patchwork offensive line. Tori Mobley has not been practicing and Matt Jones will not be available until the Fall.
2) Who is that skinny kid playing quarterback? Marques Ivory is on the “I’m going to dominate the OVC diet” having lost 28 pounds since last season. He is playing well and leading the team. Thomas Darrah continues to wow onlookers with his arm strength. Rumor has it there is another pretty good quarterback playing baseball.
3) 1-2 Punch in the Backfield. Tig Barksdale has the ability to be the best player on the team, but he still has a long way to go picking up the offense. Calvin Middleton is a 1,000 yard type rusher if he can stay healthy. Look for the Gamecocks to figure out ways to get both of these guys on the field at the same time. If they do, it will present matchup problems for opposing defenses. While he won’t be here until the Fall, DaMarcus James may also be a big part of the offense. Finally, the Gamecocks will have an old face in a new position, Rayce Whiddon has moved to running back.
4) Bonner emerges as a go-to receiver. Alan Bonner has been a dominant special teams player the last two seasons for the Gamecocks. Look for him to emerge this year as a go-to receiver. If you are looking for a dark horse to emerge from the receiving corps, remember the name Gabriel “Country” Chambers.
5) New look D. The Gamecocks will play fast on defense this year and will show a lot of movement. A big if for the upcoming season will be whether Eric Russell returns to the team after taking a redshirt season last year. He is a disruptive player and one of the most athletic on the team.
6) Jason Horton stopped by the Gamecock Illustrated office recently. His early report from spring practice was that the defense was going to give opponents a real hard time this season. Horton spoke of the new freedom to move around and make adjustments for the defensive backs, and the increased pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. Horton is looking forward to finishing strong this spring and preparing for UT Martin on Sept. 1st.