Ward: "We're blitzing more than ever"

Though the spring season has just begun, South Carolina football fans already have something to look forward to when the 2012 season begins in August. Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward promised the Gamecocks will be more aggressive on defense and blitz more often

The South Carolina defense is going to blitz more this season. Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward wants the world to know.

"We all have our different ways of doing things and we'll do things a little different," Ward said following Tuesday's first practice of the spring. "The bulk of the defense will stay the same but we'll try and tweak it and make it even better. We'll try and be a little bit more exciting and we're probably going to blitz more than we've ever blitzed before. I want the word out and I'm sure it's probably going to get out when I put it to the media, but we're going to be more aggressive."

The Gamecock defense will have to replace two of its three leading tacklers, including the versatile Antonio Allen. Allen led the team with 88 tackles, and three fumble recoveries, while forcing four fumbles, three interceptions, and one sack. Stepping in at Spur for Allen will be DeVonte Holloman. Holloman was Allen's back-up entering last season, but was quickly moved to fill a need at the safety position after Allen's terrific start to the season.

"That's where DeVonte is going to play next season unless we can get a boundary safety to come in and fill his spot," Ward said. "I feel good about Brison (Williams). Hopefully we'll get some other young men to step in at boundary safety, but right now DeVonte is starting at Spur."

Expecting Holloman to have the same kind of year Allen did is far-fetched, but that does not mean Holloman won't be successful or do things Allen could not do. At 6'2, 241 pounds Holloman may better fit Ward's new style of blitzing more often.

"Antonio was a little bit more athletic than DeVonte, but you're going to gain a lot more physical guy at that position and a guy that can blitz," Ward said. "We feel good about moving DeVonte to that position and hopefully he'll continue to pick up knowledge-wise than Antonio."

The Carolina defense will also be without three-year start Stephon Gilmore at corner after Gilmore decided to forego his senior season to enter the NFL draft. Though Akeem Auguste is expected to be healthy when fall camp opens, he joins a group of nine players who are expected not to participate in spring drills. With Gilmore gone and Auguste sitting out, that allows a group of younger guys to step in and get the majority of the reps.

"Right now we have Jimmy (Legree) at the field corner and Vic (Hampton) at the boundary corner. Ahmad (Christian) will be at the field corner position and Cadarious (Sanders) will be at the boundary, so there will be four young guys that will get a lot of reps and we'll try and get them better this spring."

While Legree will be slightly more experienced, once Auguste returns it could be Hampton that gets a hard look at the other corner position based on his athletic ability. The redshirt sophomore has had some off-field issues that have caused problems, but another spring will give him more time in the system and more experience that could pay off in 2012.

"Just continue to learn the system," Ward said. "Vic got a chance to play last season. He played well sometimes and other times not so well. He has a tremendous amount of ability so we just want him to be consistent."

Carolina also will be looking to replace two of its starters on a defensive line that was one of the best units in the nation in 2011. Devin Taylor decided to return for his senior year at one of the end positions and Jadeveon Clowney will start on the other side, but the Gamecocks lost All-American Melvin Ingram and Travian Robertson on the interior. A group of youngsters will be looking to take over on the interior. The lone senior, Byron Jerideau, will look to take one of the positions, but redshirt sophomores Kelcy Quarles and J.T. Surratt and redshirt freshmen Gerald Dixon, Jr. and Phillip Dukes will be looking for playing time as well. Aldrick Fordham, who could have seen some time in the middle, will stick to the outside.

"Aldrick is going to play outside," Ward said. "We have one of the Dixon boys that will be inside and J.T. Surratt and then we have Phillip Dukes, so we have to develop some of those young guys to come in and play better. Aldrick needs to be outside because of his size."

Though there are question marks at various positions on the defensive side of the ball, the spring is all about learning and that is what the focus is on.

"The one thing I told them at the end of practice was that I was impressed with their effort," Ward said. "We're not going to coach effort, we're paid to teach them assignment and teaching them technique and fundamentals. I feel good about the effort and we'll evaluate the film and see how much mental capacity we need to build on, but of course you're not going to do everything right in the first practice."


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