Holloman’s solid career at USC winding down

Senior spur has been a stalwart for Gamecocks

nwhite@thestate.comNovember 8, 2012 

South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman (21) tries to get by Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders (4) after an interception in the fourth quarter of the Gamecocks game against the Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • GAMECOCKS VS. RAZORBACKS WHO: USC (7-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Arkansas (4-5, 2-3) WHEN: Saturday, noon WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium TV: CBS RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91 LINE: USC by 14
  • DEVONTE HOLLOMAN BIO Position: Spur Hgt./Wgt.: 6-2, 241 Class: Senior Hometown: Rock Hill (South Pointe) Key stats: 40 tackles (third on team), 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups

DeVonte Holloman looks back over his four seasons at South Carolina and can’t believe that he has only four games left.

The senior spur has played a key role in the Gamecocks’ 34-15 record over that stretch, which includes a school-record 11 wins last season and a No. 8 ranking in the BCS this season. With three regular-season games and a bowl game remaining, he knows of one way to finish.

“I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win out, honestly,” Holloman said. “It’s kind of crazy thinking about my career being almost done here. I just want to go out in the best way possible. I think we’ll end up a lot better than last year because we’re already eighth in the BCS.”

If the Gamecocks are going to win out, starting Saturday against Arkansas, their defense will have to play better. USC allowed 406 yards (258 rushing) in a loss to LSU and gave up 472 yards (381 passing) in a win against Tennessee.

The Arkansas offense closely resembles Tennessee in that it’s driven by a strong passing quarterback in senior Tyler Wilson. His ability to pick apart defenses, as well as having solid targets such as senior receiver Cobi Hamilton, will keep pressure on the USC defense. Holloman said the secondary must be much sharper but that the defensive line also must find a way to limit Wilson’s time to throw.

“It gives us a better chance of covering when our D-line is affecting the quarterback,” Holloman said.

Holloman, who helped lead Rock Hill’s South Pointe High to a state championship four years ago, might play a greater role in the pass coverage against the Razorbacks. After starting all nine games at spur, he might switch back to safety if D.J. Swearinger moves from safety to cornerback. Holloman started 10 games in 2010 and 2011.

Kirk Botkin, who coaches the linebackers and spurs, said Holloman can fill any number of roles.

“He’s a heck of a football player. He might be our best spur, he might be our best Will linebacker, he might be our best Mike (linebacker),” Botkin said. “He might be one of our better football players on the team. He is a guy who is really intelligent. He’s so valuable because he can do a bunch of different things.”

Holloman began the season slowly in making tackles as he made the adjustment from safety to spur.

Holloman is tied for third with 40 tackles, and he calls the difference a matter of “just knowing where I’m supposed to be and what things I’m supposed to do. I’m reacting faster to the run and the pass as opposed to the beginning I had a DB (defensive back) mindset, which is I’ve got a couple of seconds to wait and see what’s going on. When you’re a little bit closer, everything is happening a lot faster.”

Holloman had big shoes to fill with the departure to the NFL of spur Antonio Allen, who led the 2011 team in tackles.

“DeVonte has had a very good year. Antonio had a super year last year, too. They both played well,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “I tell you, he’ll have a chance to play in the NFL.”

But Holloman said he isn’t looking past the Razorbacks, who have defeated the Gamecocks three consecutive seasons with big passing games. If USC is going to win its final SEC game, it will need to stay focused on the task at hand instead of the bigger picture.

That can happen if Holloman and his defensive teammates are able to impose their will. He’s disappointed they haven’t created more turnovers on the season. They have 10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

“We set a bunch of goals defensively. One of those things was a high turnover number, and we haven’t been getting many,” he said. “That’s going to be a big focus this week and going through the rest of the season.”

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