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2011 South Carolina Gamecocks Fall Practice: What to Watch for on Defense

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Fall practice began today. Here are a few of the storylines to follow where our defense is concerned.

How much better will the secondary be? Secondary play was Carolina's Achilles Heel last year. It cost us the game against Kentucky and came close to costing us some other games, as well. That was surprising, considering the talent we had in the secondary. However, we lacked depth, and that exacerbated poor decision-making. Carolina's secondary should improve this year with improved depth and wise personnel decisions such as moving DeVonte Holloman to spur and moving Akeem Auguste to corner. However, will it return to the level it was at in past years? That could be the difference between having a good and an elite defense.

How good will Jadeveon Clowney be? We know he'll be good, particularly with time. But could he be good enough to come in and immediately play at the level his predecessor, Cliff Matthews, did? If he does, the defensive line and pass rush won't miss a beat.

Is Shaq Wilson ready to return at full speed? I feel like Wilson--who Ellis Johnson once called the QB of the defense--has become a bit of a forgotten man this year. However, he could quickly make his presence felt if he returns to form. With Tony Straughter and Josh Dickerson gone, he'll need to do so for our linebacking crew to maintain pace with last year.