Spurs Up recently caught up with Chris Culliver following practice:
Chris Culliver has been a stalwart on the South Carolina defense since his sophomore year after moving from wide receiver to free safety. This season Culliver is on the move again, but he won't have to move too far because, according to him, cornerback is not that much different than safety.
"There isn't that much difference. At corner you have to show much more coverage ability. At safety it is like two positions in one," says Culliver. "You are worrying about the coverage, and being able to come up in the run game. At corner it is much more about focusing in on that one receiver, and not allowing him to catch the ball. "
Culliver was asked to move from his free safety to cornerback to better utilize his and Akeem Auguste's skills. The coaches believed that the team would benefit by Auguste moving to free safety, and by Culliver sliding over to cornerback. It is a move that Culliver believes personally will not only make him better, but also improve the team.
"It is a good move for me personally from safety to corner. It was more of a team thing though, and I feel like I will be more valuable to the whole team by playing corner. I think it is also good move for me because I am physical."
At the end of the 2009 season, Culliver was dealing with a nagging shoulder injury that forced him to sit out spring practice after having surgery to repair it. With fall camp underway, Culliver says that he is ready to go.
"The shoulder isn't an issue right now," says Culliver. "It didn't really hamper me down the stretch last year. There were just a few certain things that I was supposed to do that I wasn't able to, and it started to get a little weak on me. Now I am doing the things that I need to do to keep my shoulder stronger during the course of the season."
After the first practice on Tuesday, head coach Steve Spurrier told the media how there was a much better attitude and enthusiasm among the team. This better attitude is something Culliver and his teammates had been mentioning as well.
"I feel like we have much better attitude this year. We have more chemistry, as far as everybody coming back, and everyone is bonding together," says Culliver. "Everyone is a better friend than last year, and hanging out with each other more. We just opened a new game room and everyone is playing X-Box, pool, and really competing with each other."
Since the 2009 season ended, the buzz around Columbia has been centered on 'could this be the year that the Gamecocks break through in the Eastern Division of the SEC?' At SEC media days in Birmingham, the Gamecocks were picked to finish third only one point behind Georgia for second place. Even with raised expectations, Culliver is taking a simpler approach.
"I think we are going to do better than we did last year. To do better than last year is the goal for any team really. Whether that is winning eight or nine games, we just want to be a better team than we were a year ago. I definitely think an eight or nine win season is possible."