South Carolina will enter 2014 as one of the favorites to win an SEC Championship, but key pieces have to be replaced in Connor Shaw and the defensive line. Steve Spurrier doesn’t take spring practice too seriously, and it’s more about building depth than anything.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday in South Carolina’s spring game:
Who will win the backup quarterback job? Spurrier has made known that Dylan Thompson is his starter, and nothing will change that. But Spurrier has also talked a lot about the backups this spring. Walk-on Perry Orth, former Parade All-American Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch have all battled this spring, and entering the game, it seems that Orth is leading the way. Yes, it will be fun watching Dylan Thompson on Saturday, but it will be more interesting to see just how well his backups perform.
A little English
Without Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton, defensive end Darius English could be the Gamecocks’ most important spring player. English has put on about 20 pounds since last season and hopes to be around 260 for the start of the season, a far cry from his 225 pounds in 2013. English flashed some ability last year that wowed coaches, and Lorenzo Ward is hoping English has a huge year for his defense.
Because of so many great linebackers, Lorenzo Ward has tinkered with a 3-4 defense this spring. To successfully transition to this scheme, teams have to have great depth at defensive tackle, because you’re essentially moving a tackle to defensive end in an effort to let your linebackers make plays. How much will the Gamecocks use this scheme in 2014? Saturday’s spring game may give us an indication of whether they’ll use it at all. The 4-2-5 scheme with the Spur is the norm, but because of great depth and linebacker talent, USC could switch things up a bit this fall.
Spurrier’s “off-the-bench” play has become a regular in SC’s spring game, and Spurrier vowed that would continue. Last year, it was Jadeveon Clowney in street clothes making a catch off the bench for a touchdown. This year, Spurrier says he has a little surprise in store for fans.
“You know we’ve got the off-the-bench play,” Spurrier said earlier this week. “It’s going to be a little different this year. I want the fans to know, it is going to be a surprise. We have a surprise celebrity catcher on the off-the-bench play. I can’t tell you who it is yet, but we’ve got a surprise one coming.”
I have one guess…Darius Rucker!
Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports