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South Carolina spring wrap

2010 overall record: 9-5

2010 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 6, kicker/punter: 0

Top returners

QB Stephen Garcia, RB Marcus Lattimore, WR Alshon Jeffery, C T.J. Johnson, DE Devin Taylor, DE Melvin Ingram, CB Stephon Gilmore, S DeVonte Holloman, S D.J. Swearinger

Key losses

OG Garrett Chisolm, FB/TE Patrick DiMarco, DT Ladi Ajiboye, DE Cliff Matthews, CB Chris Culliver, P/PK Spencer Lanning

2010 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Marcus Lattimore* (1,197 yards)

Passing: Stephen Garcia* (3,059 yards)

Receiving: Alshon Jeffery* (1,517 yards)

Tackles: Stephon Gilmore* (79)

Sacks: Melvin Ingram* (9)

Interceptions: Stephon Gilmore* (3)

Spring answers

1. Lattimore, Jeffery ready for more. As impressed as South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is with the football talents of Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery, the Head Ball Coach is even more impressed with how hard they’ve worked to take their game to another level. That commitment has only worn off on the other players, especially since Lattimore and Jeffery are two of the best players in the league.

2. Teeing off in the defensive line. Ellis Johnson, the Gamecocks’ assistant head coach for the defense, isn’t ready to proclaim his defensive front as the class of the league, but it has a chance to be right up there. Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram are both proven pass-rushers, and Byron Jerideau made significant strides at tackle this spring after joining the program a year ago as a junior college newcomer. If incoming freshman Jadeveon Clowney is the real deal at end, then look out.

3. Cann comes through at guard. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said at the beginning of spring practice that redshirt freshman A.J. Cann was one of the keys for the Gamecocks and that his development would go a long way toward solidifying things up front. Well, Cann heeded that call and heads into preseason camp as the starter at left guard.

Fall questions

1. What happens with Garcia? It sounds as if fifth-year senior quarterback Stephen Garcia will get an opportunity to return to the team after being suspended two different times during the spring. Just because he’s back, though, doesn’t mean he’s going to be handed the job. Sophomore Connor Shaw will have something to say about that, and Garcia will also have to re-earn Spurrier’s trust after acting like anything but a leader this spring.

2. Who emerges at the other safety? The Gamecocks feel very good about junior D.J. Swearinger at strong safety. He had an excellent spring and is poised for a big season. But at free safety, it’s anybody’s guess. Johnson moved DeVonte Holloman from safety to the spur hybrid position and wants to keep him there. But if nobody else emerges at that other safety spot this fall, Holloman might have to move back.

3. Are the Gamecocks better against the pass? The numbers last season were ugly. South Carolina finished 10th in the league in pass defense and gave up 23 touchdown passes. The coverage was spotty, and opponents connected on far too many big pass plays against the Gamecocks. Johnson said it’s unfair to place all of the blame on the secondary and vows that they will be better across the board next season when it comes to defending the pass.