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5 story lines to watch during USC bowl practice

Five storylines for USC as it starts preparation on Tuesday for Connecticut and the Jan. 2 Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Ala.

1. Sustaining momentum

Coach Steve Spurrier wants to bottle the good energy stemming from the Clemson win and carry it through the bowl season to Signing Day. He knows if he can sign a freshman class similar to the one from 2009, the 2010 Gamecocks will be in good shape.

How do you sustain momentum? Well, talk players who are considering the NFL draft into staying. Chris Culliver, Clifton Geathers and Weslye Saunders all might have an eye for a leap.

Secondly, work on keeping this group of assistant coaches intact. Shane Beamer, Jay Graham and Eric Wolford are already surfacing as potential candidates for jobs elsewhere.

But those guys can sense that the Gamecocks could be on the verge of something special.

Spurrier hopes so, anyway.

2. Shore up the offensive line

If December's bowl preparation is akin to spring practice, then it is a great time for teaching. It is clear Wolford needs more time to get the line performing, consistently at the level that he wants. One sore spot: The Gamecocks gave up 34 sacks, 11th in the SEC. But they only gave up one in the Clemson game.

3. Get Jarvis Giles involved

Wasn't Giles supposed to have an impact similar to that of the other early enrollees, corner Stephon Gilmore and safety DeVonte Holloman? Giles has 52 carries for 277 yards. That's about half the number of carries that Kenny Miles and Brian Maddox received. But there's no reason why the coaching staff can't somehow get him involved in the gameplan for the bowl since this is all about looking toward 2010 and the future.

4. Find a way to play Gurley and Jeffery at the same time

Freshman wide receivers Tori Gurley and Alshon Jeffery played the same receiver position, we were told. But the Gamecocks have been trying all season to take advantage of smaller defensive backs with lobbed deep throws. What better way to do it than provide multiple big targets such as the 6-foot-5 Gurley and 6-4 Jeffery? It's something that needs to happen next season.

5. Give Norwood a rest

Going to have to play without him soon enough, why not let Eric Norwood catch a breather during December? Let Josh Dickerson, Tony Straughter and Shaq Wilson take a whole bunch of reps at the two linebacker spots. Yes, Rodney Paulk is expected back next year, but this will not hurt anything as far as the future is concerned.

- Travis Haney, The (Charleston) Post & Courier

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