South Carolina’s spring football scrimmage tomorrow is workout No. 10 of 15 of the spring, so the Gamecocks will be two-thirds of the way done with spring practices when that is done.
Here now, some notebook-emptying items from the past few days …
** Today’s print edition story focused on left tackle Brandon Shell, a redshirt freshman who needs as many reps as he can get this spring. A guy who isn’t in that category: senior center T.J. Johnson, who is out for the spring with a sprained foot. It isn’t a serious injury, but the coaches don’t want to risk anything as Johnson prepares for his third season as a starter.
“I think he could practice, but of course that’s not my call,” said offensive line coach Shawn Elliott. “T.J.’s a veteran and he’s been doing this since he arrived here, long before I got here (in 2010). He doesn’t need to go prove anything to me.
“I think the reps that (redshirt freshman) Kyle Harris is getting at center and (true freshman) Clayton Stadnik, I think we need them. T.J. wasn’t going to get a lot of work anyway. He was going to help those guys along. I’m not really concerned about T.J. getting back in spring. If he gets back, fantastic, but he’s not going to get a whole lot of work.”
** Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who continues to oversee the secondary, said there is “no question” that Akeem Auguste will be a starting corner when he returns for his senior season this fall. He is still sidelined after undergoing foot surgery last season, which would have been his senior year if not for his surgery-related redshirt.
“He’s played a lot of football here,” Ward said after last Saturday’s scrimmage. “He comes back definitely as a starter. Akeem will start running on hard surfaces here in the next week and (free safety) D.J. (Swearinger, who also had foot surgery) will come out of his boot in about seven, eight days. I think they’ll definitely both be ready come this summer (for voluntary workouts).”
** Because DeVonte Holloman is now the spur linebacker, last year’s No. 2 spur, Damario Jeffery, moved inside to the will inside linebacker spot.
“He didn’t play a lot of plays for us on Saturday (in the scrimmage), but he played well,” Ward said. “He’s doing well. He’s mentally where we need him to be on most things. We definitely want to see how physical he’s going to be. If he’s physical, he’s going to be able to help us.”
Said Holloman: “He’s getting more aggressive. He knows the defense. The only thing we want him to do is get more aggressive and he’s done that.”
** Ward likes what he is getting from Holloman at spur, which is an important spot.
“It’s really a bigger DB that’s athletic enough to cover or a smaller linebacker that’s physical enough to play on a tight end,” Ward said. “He’s got to be able to take on run blocks and he’s got to be able to cover in space. That guy, probably, when you’re recruiting him, you want him to be the most athletic guy on your team.”
Holloman is now listed at 241 pounds, after being listed at 232 at the end of last season. When he was being recruited, he recalled the coaches saying he could grow into being a spur.
“Which I guess I have,” he said. “It just happened. I don’t really worry about my weight. I don’t try to gain. I don’t try to lose. It just comes and it goes. I feel comfortable. I can move at this size, so I’m not really worried about my size or my weight. I’ve shown (the ability to play) safety and if I can show spur, that’ll help me out in the future (as a pro).”
** Like his coaches, Devin Taylor is seeing a different approach this spring from fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who played well last season as a true freshman even though he didn’t know what he was doing most of the time.
“Basically, he’s willing to learn a lot more this year to become a better football player for the football,” Taylor said. “I think he used more so just his talent to work off, last year versus this year, where he’s actually listening to different things to become a better player.”
Taylor isn’t stressing about USC losing Melvin Ingram, since he and Clowney are pretty good players in their own right.
“It’s one of those not really rebuild, it’s just a replace thing,” Taylor said. “He was a good athlete and everything, but it’s just another person that’s ready to go next year to take his place. I feel confident about our potential as a defensive line.”
Did Ingram’s monster senior year motivate Taylor?
“I could say it motivated me a little bit,” Taylor said. “It’s one of those: If he can do that, I can do that, too.”