Football is upon us, folks. Next Tuesday, March 15, the Gamecocks will begin their quest to defend their 2010 SEC Eastern Division Championship and to win their first outright conference championship when they return to the Proving Grounds to begin spring practice.
The Gamecocks have a lot of talent returning this year, but they also have a lot of question marks. Here are some of the things that I'll be most avidly watching for:
What happens at the FB position? Think back to some of Marcus Lattimore's biggest runs last season. On many of them, Patrick DiMarco paved the way, laying out defensive ends and linebackers. Now, DiMarco is gone. It'll be interesting to see who gets the most reps at FB and he looks. Dalton Wilson and Matt Coffee get the nod on the depth chart, but I'm wondering if we'll see Justice Cunningham in this role, as well. Cunningham might be suited to a dual FB / TE role.
Who do we settle on at offensive line? There's likely to be a good bit of shuffling on the offensive line as we work to determine a tentative starting five. Some of the new faces to watch are Cody Gibson, Corey Robinson, Kaleb Broome, and A.J. Cann.
Who replaces Tori Gurley? It appears that D.L. Moore will replace Tori Gurley as the second receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, but it will interesting to see who else gets more looks. Jason Barnes is now in the starting lineup at a slot receiver, but, based on Barnes's longtime inability to stay in the starting lineup, I'm wondering if that will stick. Ace Sanders will obviously see plenty of time. I'm also interested in seeing if Nick Jones or Lamar Scruggs can get on the field, too.
Who replaces Ladi Ajiboye at DT? The current depth chart has Aldrick Fordham at DT, but at around 270, Fordham is definitely a tweener. We also have Melvin Ingram at DE, and I'm expecting Jadeveon Clowney to take that spot. I expect that we might see more of Ingram and Kelcy Quarles at the second DT slot than Fordham, but we'll see.
Will we have depth at the safety positions? Now that we've moved Akeem Auguste back to CB, we appear to be fairly set for depth at the CB positions, with Auguste and Stephon Gilmore starting, C.C. Whitlock providing rotation, and Victor Hampton and Cadarious Sanders providing additional depth. We have no one, though, behind DeVonte Holloman and D.J. Swearinger who is proven. That's worrisome because it caused problems last year, so I'd like to see somebody step up at these positions.
So, what are you watching for this spring?