Lookback: Week One Storylines

With one week in the books, Gamecock Anthem looks back at the major storylines from week one of the Gamecocks' 2011 spring practice.

Week One Storylines
Garcia, Clifford suspended
It didn't take long for the first major story of the Gamecocks' 2011 to take place as quarterbacks Stephen Garcia and Andrew Clifford were conspicuously absent from the first practice of the spring. Word quickly spread that the two were suspended from the first week of practice, and head coach Steve Spurrier confirmed after the workout that they were suspended for a "violation of team rule" from something that had happened in the past, undoubtedly referring to an incident the week of USC's bowl game.

Spurrier was also quick to point out that Garcia has actually had a good start to 2011 despite the prior mistake. While they were not able to participate in the scrimmage, Garcia and Clifford were both allowed to return to the team Saturday and did participate in pre-scrimmage drills.

Both quarterbacks return to the team in full capacity for Tuesday afternoon's practice.
Baker makes a move
Many fans and media members already had their eyes on Eric Baker as someone who could surprise this spring and challenge Kenny Miles for the back-up running back spot. But no one knew for sure if the redshirt junior running back could truly return to his prior form after missing the better part of two seasons of action due to first a sports hernia, then being buried on the depth chart and then a torn ACL.

Baker quickly provided answers to any concerns and showed the great initial burst that made him an intriguing option at running back as a true freshman.

Baker capped off a solid first week with a scrimmage-leading 34 rushing yards on seven carries and four catches for 17 yards on Saturday. Baker also displayed vision, patience and soft hands.

Baker and Miles will undoubtedly compete into the fall and will then deal with former four-star freshman Shon Carson, as well. But make no mistake, Baker quickly showed that he's back and is a major contender to spell Marcus Lattimore.
Jeffery, Holloman make moves
It was a move that assistant head coach in charge of the defense Ellis Johnson had seemingly wanted to make for some time. But lack of another potential starter at boundary safety, DeVonte Holloman's old spot, and lack of depth at SPUR, Damario Jeffery's old spot, prevented Johnson from pulling the trigger on the move.

With a seemingly ever-growing feeling that SPUR is truly Holloman's best position and that linebacker is truly Jeffery's best spot, Johnson decided shortly before camp began to just go for it.

The biggest question remains, can someone step up at the boundary safety spot? Corey Addison remains the player with every opportunity to be the starter there. He's shown flashes but needs to demonstrate consistency. Mid-year enrollee Brison Williams also remains a candidate and freshmen Sheldon Royster and Kadetrix Marcus will have their say in the Fall.
Young DBs Legree, Mattox turn heads
While cornerback Jimmy Legree was mentioned often last offseason as someone who would have the opportunity to possibly step up in a back-up role at a depth-deprived cornerback position, Legree never showed the consistency needed to garner major playing time. While Johnson wasn't ready to pronounce Legree as having arrived after just one solid week, the now redshirt sophomore looks as poised and confident as ever in his role on the defense. Legree has shown good coverage ability as well as a knack for breaking on the ball in the air. While Victor Hampton was the player with the most eyes on him to potentially take this spot, Legree could earn playing time as the "fourth corner" behind Stephon Gilmore, Akeem Auguste and C.C. Whitlock -- more specifically as Gilmore's direct back-up.

Former high school quarterback and early enrollee Martay Mattox might be the biggest surprise of the spring. Mattox is a long, natural athlete that started out at cornerback but quickly shifted to free safety mid-week. Johnson has taken notice of Mattox's instincts and said Saturday that he's someone the staff is going to take a close look at. While D.J. Swearinger is currently entrenched as the starter at field safety barring a move for him to boundary, Mattox could fill the wide-open back-up void behind him.
Defense takes first scrimmage
Despite arguably quarterback Dylan Thompson's best day as a Gamecock, as is usually the case early in spring, the defense got the better of the Gamecocks' offense in Saturday's mini-scrimmage. If not for two deep touchdown strikes from Thompson, the defense would have held the offense out of the end zone.

Baker was another positive for the offense but overall this was the defense's day.

The Gamecocks will scrimmage again this Saturday in what will be their first "true" scrimmage of the spring.

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