At 65, USC coach Steve Spurrier focuses on his core during his several-times-a-week, afternoon workouts. As the Gamecocks get ready to begin their summer strength and conditioning program, here’s a look at some focus areas for some of USC’s key players.
Stephen Garcia’s headAs much as the Gamecocks need their quarterback to work out his right arm this summer, there also is the question of where Garcia’s head will be after Spurrier’s constant harping on the Tampa native during the Gamecock Club spring meeting circuit.
Garcia has shown an ability to let criticism roll off him. Garcia has the skills to be an All-SEC quarterback, but it’s time for him to step up his commitment level and take the next step as a leader and winner.
If not, he might be watching come the fall. The Connor Shaw talk from Spurrier is not smoke.
Jarriel King’s heartThe starting left tackle is recovering from his second heart procedure in the past two years. King has played with his irregular heartbeat since his days at Georgia Military, but he needs to figure out a way to take it easy over the next few weeks without falling too far out of shape.
In its recent mock 2011 draft, The Sporting News had King going in the first round. NFL teams undoubtedly will check out King’s condition thoroughly. But King can help his draft prospects immensely by returning to the form he showed in 2008 after an up-and-down ’09.
Rodney Paulk’s right kneeThe Gamecocks lost more than their starting middle linebacker when Paulk went down with a torn ACL in the first game at N.C. State last season. They also lost a tough, gritty player who was on several of USC’s special teams.
It’s doubtful that Paulk will be pulling extra duty this season less than a year removed from his surgery. But it will be enough if Paulk can man the middle, and allow Shaq Wilson to move outside and play in space.
Joey Scribner-Howard’s right legUSC was dreadful covering kickoffs last season, giving up three returns for touchdowns. Part of the problem was the Gamecocks didn’t have anyone who could drive the ball into the end zone: They had just one touchback all season.
Coaches believe Scribner-Howard has the leg strength to help win the field-position battle, as long as he can harness it.
Chris Culliver’s shoulderCulliver is one of the Gamecocks’ best athletes. Mel Kiper has him ranked among the top safeties in next year’s draft.
But here’s the rub: USC wants Culliver to play corner this year. The move makes sense in terms of lessening the strain on Culliver’s twice-repaired shoulder. But Culliver still must prove he can cover SEC receivers on an island.
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