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Spring Practice Weekend Scrimmage News and Notes

Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks scrimmaged yesterday at Williams-Brice Stadium. A few things to note:

Stephon Gilmore Stepping Up and Primed for a Bigger Role. Gilmore claims he's feeling more comfortable at cornerback after spending a year learning Ellis Johnson's system, and Spurrier claims that he's going to utilize the wildcat with Gilmore under center (and defensive tackle Melvin Ingram in the backfield) more often this year.The former was to be expected; Gilmore has the talent to be one of the league's best corners, and now that he has some experience under his belt, I expect you'll begin to see him assert himself.

The latter news about the wildcat, though, is something to keep our eyes on. I really want to see us use this formation more often, as it provides a nice change of pace and seems to be extremely effective. However, as with other promises from Spurrier regarding changes in offensive philosophy, I'll believe it when I see it. We were supposed to see it--as well as more zone-read option--last year, but in the end we only used it in the last two games. To Spurrier's credit, he seems to be acknowledging its effectiveness in those situations and seems to want to pick up where he left off in the Clemson game. And why not? That was probably the best we've seen our offense since 2006.

Andrew Clifford Challenging for Backup Role. This is good news. As I've said before, I think it will be best for the team's future if Conner Shaw can redshirt, and that's more likely if Clifford asserts himself as a viable candidate for backup quarterback. I'd like to see Clifford get more snaps for the rest of the spring so we can get a better sense of what he has to offer.

Also of note is that Spurrier, when asked whether or not Clifford had asserted himself for the backup spot, said that Clifford--as well as Zac Brindise and Shaw--was competing for the starting spot. As I've said before, if any of these guys are good enough to supplant Stephen Garcia, I'm all for it. However, since I think that's unlikely, I'll just say that I hope Spurrier is simply trying to get under Garcia's butt and motivate him. What would make me unhappy would be to learn that Spurrier is, as he is often caricatured as being, unhappy without teeth to his threats to bench his quarterback. Time will tell if that's the case.