Cody Waldrop was at practice on Wednesday, but was doing calisthenics on the side while his teammates ran drills. Once he was done, he got back on his crutches and hobbled to the locker room.
Four days before No. 6 South Carolina visits No. 11 Georgia, the starting center limping away from the field is not what the Gamecocks want to see. But there may yet be a recovery.
“Right now, it’s hard to tell,” offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said on Wednesday. “He’s improving every day, so we’ll see what it looks like on Saturday.”
Waldrop was named the starting center almost as soon as T.J. Johnson’s eligibility was up, and he’s been groomed as the successor throughout the spring, summer and preseason. He played well against North Carolina, but sprained his foot.
If he can’t play against the Bulldogs on Saturday, the job goes to redshirt freshman Clayton Stadnik. The first time he snaps the ball to quarterback Connor Shaw will be the first time he’s done it in a game.
Elliott said that Stadnik has done OK and is getting the job done right now. Is there a concern?
“What would I concern myself for?” Elliott asked. “You’re going to play who you got to play. You can’t worry about it. You've got to go out there and prepare to play his best, hopefully he does his best. You can’t have much concerns.”
Georgia native Connor Shaw didn’t get to play in his first trip to Sanford Stadium, when USC won a wild 45-42 game (the Melvin Ingram Show). He’s anxious for the chance to get his first start in his home state on Saturday.
“I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting for us Georgia boys. It was fun to get a win between the hedges and we hope to do the same thing this year.”
As for any old loyalties, Shaw answered simply. A fan of Steve Spurrier’s Florida powerhouses growing up, Shaw never dreamed of playing in red and black.
“For Georgia?” he asked. “Absolutely not. Playing against them, maybe.”
Mr. Deep Route
Shaq Roland was still glowing from his first touchdown of the season, caught on the third play of the year against North Carolina. The sophomore, who struggled to get on the field as a freshman and struggled to catch the ball when he did play, feels that the quick TD was a confidence-booster.
“I knew he was going to call that play eventually,” Roland said. “I really wasn’t expecting it to be the third play, just to be honest. But I was ready for it. It was an exciting play for me. Now I’m just ready to play.”
ESPN analysts Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe attended practice. They, along with Brad Nessler, are calling the game on Saturday.
Victor Hampton returned to practice after being limited on Tuesday. Cody Gibson, out since the first week of the preseason with a sprained knee, also returned.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Waldrop (foot), Kadetrix “J.J.” Marcus (shoulder), Devin Washington (concussion), Carlton Heard (hamstring), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated left elbow) and Mike Matulis (shoulder).
The Gamecocks will practice at 4 p.m. on Thursday. It is closed to the public.