Eric Wolford tried to strike the right balance, playing for the present and the future, in his first season as offensive line coach.
The results for the present were far from what he or many other people wanted. He thinks the plan for the future is going better.
Three reasons Wolford feels good: He saved some red-shirts (on guards Nick Allison and Rokevius Watkins), the recruiting and the work the players are putting in the weight room under Craig Fitzgerald, also in his first year.
"We'll start to look like Florida's offensive line a little bit, as far as having some size to us and some guys that could play potentially pretty well," Wolford said.
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The Gamecocks rank last in the SEC in sacks allowed and rushing offense. Wolford has said some of those stats are deceiving, but grants that overall the production of his line has been below par.
But he also inherited most of the players, and the stats are similar to last year. The Gamecocks have a number of commitments from offensive line recruits, which gives him optimism.
"We've got to have competition," Wolford said. "That's the exciting thing about the young guys and the guys we've got coming in. ... That's what we need. Competition makes you better."
Senior center Lemuel Jeanpierre predicted improvement under Wolford. And he echoed the optimism about the weight training.
"This was one of the first offseasons since I've been here you could really see a whole dedication, a commitment with more people showing up," Jeanpierre said. "People as a whole, their strength started improving. I think, as we go on, the strength will improve."
Remember these Titans?
Herman Boone, the football coach of the Alexandria, Va., high school that inspired the movie, "Remember the Titans," addressed USC's team before Wednesday's practice. Boone, in town for a speaking engagement on campus, challenged the Gamecocks' linemen to "fight and win back their home" - the line of scrimmage.
Boone was accompanied by former USC quarterback Ron Bass. Known as "Sunshine," Bass played for Boone at T.C. Williams when the newly integrated school won a state title in 1971.
Boone said he was a big Steve Spurrier fan when Spurrier coached the Redskins, and "jumped at the opportunity" to talk to the Gamecocks.
"He's a fighter," Boone said of Spurrier. "I always liked him."
Boone said USC needs to persevere through its recent rough stretch.
"I know they've been a little down," he said. "But Frank Sinatra said if you fall down on your face, get your butt back up and get back in the race."
Ellis Johnson, assistant head coach for defense, said defensive end Cliff Matthews (dislocated shoulder) will have surgery after the bowl game, and will not do much during spring practice. Johnson expects Matthews and safety Chris Culliver to return for their senior seasons rather than jump to the NFL. ...
The Gamecocks held a scrimmage for young players on Wednesday. Spurrier said quarterbacks Reid McCollum, a redshirt freshman, and Andrew Clifford, a true freshman, did well.