A few offseason odds and ends, all of which happen to involve the defense:
–Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, who coaches corners and free safeties, said the plan is to have Chris Culliver and Akeem Auguste swap positions this spring.
The hope is that by moving to corner, Culliver will have less wear and tear on his twice-repaired shoulder. And while Auguste was solid at corner last season, he is an aggressive player whose collision skills translate well to the free safety position.
Of course, Culliver will not get any work at corner or safety this spring after his most recent shoulder surgery. He is one of a number of prominent defensive players who will be sitting out spring drills (Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson and Rodney Paulk also are coming off surgeries).
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Don’t look for Ladi Ajiboye to do much, either. The defensive tackle is healthy – and D-line coach Brad Lawing intends to keep it that way.
“If I get Ladi hurt in the spring, I’m dumb,” Lawing said.
–USC coaches are seeking a medical hardship waiver for seldom-used corner Addison Williams. That would allow the junior from Atlanta to remain at school and serve as a player-coach, although his scholarship would not be counted against the 85-schollie limit.
–Former USC linebacker Eric Norwood expects big things from Shaq Wilson, his likely successor at the weakside spot: “Shaq can play any position on that back seven, except for cornerback and stuff. Shaq, he’s a baller. He has been since he stepped in.”
Wilson filled in admirably at middle linebacker last fall after Paulk went down with a season-ending knee injury in the opener at N.C. State. Despite giving up a lot of size to the guards and centers assigned to block him, the 5-11, 210-pound Wilson led USC with 85 tackles – four more than Norwood.
Meanwhile, Norwood predicted Paulk would have to fight Josh Dickerson for the starting spot in the middle. Dickerson finished among the Gamecocks’ top 10 tacklers in 2009 after transferring from junior college (and injuring his shoulder in last year’s spring game).
“Josh came on strong through the middle of the season when he started picking up that defense and getting more comfortable,” Norwood said.