When you’re have built a proud defensive tradition like South Carolina has in recent years, when you struggle like they did in the 38-35 victory over Tennessee two weeks ago, you make some changes. With another passing attack visiting Saturday and two weeks to prepare, there has been a slight change in the secondary. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward was very broad when discussing the secondary Carolina will trot out onto the field, but he did say that safety D.J. Swearinger will line up at cornerback at least part of the time.
“Based on the personnel that they have, D.J. could start, Jimmy could start, Vic could start, Brison could start, DeVonte could start,” Ward said. “It’s just based on the personnel. Those guys are going to be somewhere on the field Saturday.”
Swearinger did play a little corner in the Tennessee contest, but has not specifically played much at corner since his freshman season. Usually when you slide someone over to a different position you either start his back-up at the former position or move around several players. That could leave players out of position or inexperienced players playing in critical situations. However, for Carolina that isn’t really the case. DeVonte Holloman would slide back to safety, a position he has experience at. Demario Jeffery would start at Spur, an experienced senior who has been through the wars. Jimmy Legree would be the odd man out with Swearinger likely taking over his position opposite Victor Hampton. Though it is seemingly a smooth transition for all involved, making those changes now is the best time to do so.
“We started it last week so we had a good eight or nine days to practice it and we feel good for it,” Ward said.
After being torched for 368 yards and four touchdowns against Tyler Bray two weeks ago, they now face the SEC’s most prolific passer and best receiver. Tyler Wilson leads the league in passing, averaging 316 yards per game, just over three yards more than Bray. Wilson has completed nearly 61% of his passes and has 16 touchdowns. He’s a quarterback that is similar to Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in that even when you get to him and get your hands on him, he is still able to get a pass off.
“We’ve watched him on tape and he’s good at that and has a strong arm,” Ward said. “He doesn’t even step forward sometimes when you’re about to hit him but he gets the ball out to his receivers and he’s accurate. He understands the system and he’s a really good quarterback. He’s very similar to Tyler Bray.”
Receiver Cobi Hamilton leads the SEC in many categories. Hamilton leads the league with 69 receptions, 1,077 yards, and 120 yard per game. He is the only receiver with more than 1,000 yards and the only receiver that averages more than 100 yards per game. It is hard to compare Hamilton to Tennessee’s Justin Hunter and Cordarrell Patterson in stats because there are two Tennessee receivers and no other Razorback has more than 22 receptions. Though South Carolina is certainly no passing team, even the Gamecocks have three guys with more than 22 receptions. Hamilton is clearly a one-man show as receiver.
“He’s the leading receiver in the league so he might be better (than Hunter and Patterson),” Ward said. I” know the two players at Tennessee are really good and there’s no question that the one coming in here Saturday is leading the SEC. We have a big responsibility.”
- Ward said that Sharrod Golightly will not be available for Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury
- Akeem Auguste is about 80-85% according to Ward and should be available Saturday after missing the Tennessee game.
- Jimmy Legree did miss some practice early in the week, but did practice later in the week and on Thursday.
- Steve Spurrier made a point to make sure the fans are in the stadium Saturday. It appears Spurrier has taken the recent lack of success against Arkansas personally.
“I just want to remind all of our fans that we need you Saturday,” Spurrier said. “We need you to treat Arkansas as if it’s Georgia, Tennessee, Clemson, or whoever. This team has beaten us more than those other teams have beaten us the last three years combined. We need to get after Arkansas and we need the fans screaming and yelling. It’s a huge game for us and I think our guys are ready to play.”
- Spurrier reiterated that Marcus Lattimore will not be at the game Saturday after discussions with Dr. Guy and the trainers. Lattimore is still expected to be recognized prior to the game for breaking the touchdown records though there are no signs of any changes on the ramps where the previous record-holders are.
“Marcus Lattimore is not going to be at the game,” Spurrier said. “We earlier thought he would be. The trainers and doctors and also Marcus thought it best he not attend, but he’ll be watching it on television. He’s doing well.”