South Carolina’s secondary is undergoing yet another makeover.
Junior DeVonte Holloman is heading back to safety, where he played his first two seasons as a Gamecock. Holloman was moved to spur in the offseason and played there against Georgia, but South Carolina needs depth at safety and physical tacklers against this week’s opponent, Navy, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said.
Holloman will start at boundary safety and regular boundary safety D.J. Swearinger will start at free safety, Ward said. The move costs free safety Jimmy Legree his starting job.
“Jimmy didn’t do a very good job of tackling (against Georgia), and he knows it,” Ward said. “We have to get better at that. In this ball game, you need some guys who are going to run through some crack blocks and get to the pitch.”
The Midshipmen run the triple option and lead the nation in rushing with 400.5 yards per game.
It’s possible Holloman will move back to spur next week against Vanderbilt, but it doesn’t appear likely.
“Right now, we will keep him at the safety spot until we develop some solid depth there,” Ward said.
Holloman, who had four tackles against the Bulldogs, was happy to hear about the move.
“It feels good to be back there,” he said. “I am trying to make plays. Wherever the coach puts me, I’m going to make the best of it.”
Damario Jeffery, who was moved from spur to linebacker in the offseason, will be back at spur backing up Antonio Allen this week, spurs coach John Butler said. Butler declined to comment on Jeffery’s position beyond this week.
The shuffling at safety might not be the only change this week.
Senior cornerback C.C. Whitlock didn’t practice Monday due to a neck injury. He’s questionable for the Navy game and might lose his starting job even if he plays, Ward said. Ward is unhappy with the secondary play and wants to get senior cornerback Marty Markett more playing time, he said.
“There could very well be a change,” Ward said. “I let the guys know today that there are no jobs safe, even Stephon Gilmore.”
Gilmore, a preseason All-SEC selection, has struggled in both games this season.
“He just missed some tackles in the open field (against Georgia), and he’s got to be challenging receivers more,” Ward said. “Stephon feels like he’s off to a slow start. He hasn’t really done all that bad.”
Senior cornerback Akeem Auguste, who aggravated his foot injury against Georgia, won’t play this week, Ward said. Auguste played 24 “good” snaps against the Bulldogs, Ward said.
“I fully expect Akeem not to play this week but to be able to play against Vanderbilt,” Ward said.
Melvin Ingram got another honor Monday, when the SEC named him its special teams player of the week. Ingram scored a touchdown on a 68-yard run off a fake punt and added a 5-yard fumble return for a touchdown and an onside kick recovery as the Gamecocks beat Georgia 45-42 on Saturday. Ingram was named the Walter Camp defensive player of the week. He was also named the Rivals.com SEC player of the week.
Ingram’s coaches continued to rave about him after Monday’s practice.
“He can do anything,” defensive line coach Brad Lawing said. “The year he played in the Shrine Bowl, the Shrine Bowl coaches told me that year he was their best quarterback, he was their best kicker, their best punter, their best snapper, their best everything. He’s talented, tremendous athlete.”
The Sept. 24 game against Vanderbilt will kick off at 7 p.m. and be televised by ESPN or ESPN2. The other network will carry the Florida vs. Kentucky game in the same time slot.