Garnet and Black Game: Where Do the Gamecocks Stand?
This isn't about predictions or expectations.
This is simply what happened at the Garnet and Black game this past Saturday, April 10th. It is also talk about who to watch and what to watch for.
Keep in mind that a good spring game does not a starter make.
If so, Justice Cunningham would be the hands-down starter for the Gamecocks at tight end in 2010. I don't see that happening, as he has some stiff competition, especially from incumbent starter Weslye Saunders.
Steve Spurrier—who has never been known for boosting the ego of his quarterback—made less than flattering comments about 2009 starter Stephen Garcia in a recent ESPN interview. Garcia has said that he will use the comments as motivation and work even harder as summer and the 2010 season approaches.
Garcia didn't get off to the best start this past Saturday, but rebounded nicely, going 8-15 for 79 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The interception was a pass that bounced out of his intended receiver's hands and into the hands of Akeem Auguste.
There will be position battles this off-season, including the position always under the thumb of Spurrier—the quarterback position. Unlike the others, with Saunders, DiMarco and Cunningham at tight end, Paulk and Dickerson at linebacker, Gurley and Lecorn at slot receiver and Auguste and Swearinger at free safety, it's Stephen Garcia versus what seems like the world.
Garcia has true freshman and likely backup quarterback (if not starter) Connor Shaw over his shoulder. Shaw went went 4 of 8 for 59 yards while Zac Brandise was 5 of 8 for 70 yards. The best performing quarterback of the Garnet and Black game overall was Andrew Clifford, who threw 8-12 for 100 yards. Walk-on Seth Strickland is also in the running for the job, though not expected to earn it.
Spurrier was his usual self, not optimistic, but not overly pessimistic.
"We are certainly not a very good team yet," Spurrier said. "We have a chance if some guys come through. We have a chance, but not until we've earned it. Don't start praising the Gamecocks yet."
I agree 100 percent.
Every time the Gamecocks come in with hype, it's a let down, albeit let downs have become the norm around Columbia. After all, the Gamecocks are gunning for only their second conference championship and the first since 1969.
Spurrier has also commented that cornerback Stephon Gilmore could play wide receiver in 2010. It's intriguing to say the least, and since I'm not paid to coach the Gamecocks I won't question it. Maybe he's shown something to the coaches that the rest of us haven't seen.
What I can't question at all is the fact that Stephon Gilmore is a next level athlete. There is seemingly nothing he can't do. He's already a great corner, a dual-threat quarterback (as evidenced in the Clemson game last season) and kick returner.
I personally think he'd be more valuable as a quarterback in the Wild Cock formation, but maybe he isn't needed with both Garcia and Shaw being dual-threats. There are seemingly no boundaries to his potential and ability as a Gamecock.
I mentioned early that Patrick DiMarco, nephew of PGA golfer Chris DiMarco, will be in the running for the spot of starting tight end. I don't know what, if anything, that tells us, but inquiring minds wonder why he will no longer be at fullback.
With the stable of running backs in Columbia, is it possible there will be a move to a two running back set?
Overall the Garnet and Black game was a good showing, plus no injuries, be it minor or major, seemed to stop the Gamecocks. The quarterback position may be up for grabs, but seems to be in good hands. The running backs and receivers seem to be strong. The defensive backs also look strong, and there is depth there as well.
As I said previously, I won't speculate on the 2010 results based on the spring game.
I will only say that the Gamecocks show tremendous potential and have a roster littered with game-breakers and game-changers.
Only time will tell what 2010 holds for the Garnet and Black.
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