South Carolina Football: 3 Weakest Positions to Worry About
The South Carolina Gamecocks have an impressive football team with high expectations for 2013, though there are still some positions that this team should worry about.
The Gamecocks offense is stacked at nearly every position. With a combination of speed, skill and power players, South Carolina is fairly set on the offensive side.
Defense is where the questions remain. Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has talented players, headlined by Jadeveon Clowney, yet other positions are still of concern.
As a whole, South Carolina has one of the best teams in college football, but there are still some positions that need improvement.
Here are the three weakest positions to worry about on the South Carolina Gamecocks.
South Carolina is trying to replace center T.J. Johnson who graduated and is entering the 2013 NFL draft.
Johnson was a leader and rock in the middle of the offensive line, which makes center a difficult position for a new player to come into.
Center has high standards for South Carolina thanks to Johnson's strong career where he set the record for most starts in school history.
Redshirt freshman Cody Waldrop is the front-runner to land the starting spot at center.
Waldrop is a talented player who redshirt his freshman year and lacks experience at center after coming out of high school as an offensive guard.
Not to discount Waldrop, but there is a huge difference between having a senior leader in Johnson at center versus Waldrop who will be playing in his first games as a Gamecock.
Time and experience will make Waldrop into a strong contributor on the offensive line. But right now, center is a weaker position due to the youth and not knowing how Waldrop will play in games this fall.
Waldrop knows the importance of his position as a key slot on the line and filling Johnson's shoes will be difficult. Though, Waldrop has the skills to step up.
2. Middle Linebacker
It comes as no surprise that middle linebacker is a weak position for the Gamecocks right now.
South Carolina lost linebackers and have to replace the middle of the 4-2-5 defense.
The issue with both the "Mike" and "Will" linebackers are a lack of experience. No matter who steps into the starting roles, they will be a young player who will have to step up early and be an on-field leader.
Experience is key with interior linebackers because they are relied upon to make proper reads, analyze offensive sets and showcase versatility.
South Carolina's linebackers are young, but are also very athletic.
Both of these players have potential, but are relatively unproven and could pose as a weakness in the middle of the defense. South Carolina should be solid as a defensive unit, though middle linebacker could be the weak link in an otherwise strong group.
Beyond the potential starters, the Gamecocks lack depth at middle linebacker. There are many capable players but none have the experience or innate leadership that the position demands. Redshirt freshman T.J. Holloman appears to be the best leader and possesses a superior linebacker intelligence, but once again, he is young like the rest of his fellow linebackers.
South Carolina's linebackers have the talent and athleticism to produce strong play at the position, but youth, inexperience and consistency could be issues with this group.
3. "Spur" Linebacker
The other linebacker position, the "Spur", is another major area of concern for the Gamecocks.
Once again, South Carolina has a tough task of replacing the consistent play of another graduated senior, DeVonte Holloman.
On top of Holloman's leadership and strong play, he was also an oversized player at the hybrid spur position. At 6'2" and 241 pounds, Holloman had power and size to go along with coverage instincts and speed.
For the 2013 season, the Gamecocks have two options for a starter at the spur, though both are extremely small compared to Holloman.
Both players are under 200 pounds and will bring a speedy, extra defensive back style of play as opposed to Holloman's total package of coverage and stoutness to play in the box.
Golightly is very undersized at just 5'10" and 179 pounds, so the spur could be tough for him to play.
Diggs has more length and sheer athleticism, though he is the younger, more inexperienced player. Golightly has also played very well so far this spring.
Either of these two will be in starting form in the fall, but it is still a weak position due to the drop-off from Holloman, lack of experience and undersized players.