Bowl an audition for Gamecocks' Ward?

At least one SEC assistant coach could be auditioning for a promotion during the bowl season.

South Carolina will be without Ellis Johnson, who left to take the Southern Miss head coaching job after overseeing the Gamecocks’ defense for the past four seasons.

Lorenzo Ward has taken over for the Capital One Bowl and will coordinate the defensive plan and make the calls during South Carolina’s matchup with Nebraska on Jan. 2 in Orlando.

Ward already has the defensive coordinator’s title, but Johnson was the one running the show.

Here’s Ward’s chance to show what he can do, and you can bet that South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will be watching closely.

Ward, whose specialty is the defensive secondary, is in his third season with the Gamecocks. He knows the system, knows the personnel and knows the SEC. He came to South Carolina after spending a year on Arkansas’ staff.

If the Gamecocks play well on defense in the bowl game (and they’re ranked fourth nationally in total defense heading into the game), Ward could go a long way toward stepping in full time for Johnson, who created a lofty standard at South Carolina on defense.

Spurrier has already said that Ward will be one of the people he considers for the job, and former Arizona head coach Mike Stoops will be on Spurrier’s call list, too.

With some of his most recent hires, Spurrier has sort of gone out of the box.

It could be that he doesn’t even leave his staff to find his next defensive coordinator.