In terms of where the tailback lines up in the South Carolina offense, the I’s have it – at least from Marcus Lattimore’s vantage point.
The Parade All-American from Byrnes High estimated the Gamecocks used the I-formation for half the offensive plays in Thursday’s scrimmage. That was a welcome change for Lattimore, who aligned next to the quarterback in a one-back set at Byrnes.
“I kind of like that (I-formation) better because I’m back further and I can kind of see it better, see the whole field,” Lattimore said after Friday’s practice. “In high school, I was in the shotgun my whole career. But I’m kind of liking the I better, just adjusting to it.”
Lattimore, the leading rusher Thursday with 63 yards and a touchdown on six carries, also is adapting to playing behind two quarterbacks. Lattimore said the contrasting styles of returning starter Stephen Garcia and freshman Connor Shaw made it “kind of tough” to adjust.
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“Shaw, he can run. He likes the zone read. He likes that a lot. You can tell by the way he plays,” Lattimore said. “Garcia, he’s kind of a better passer. So it is kind of different.”
But Lattimore said he believes the Gamecocks will have a good quarterback regardless of which one emerges as the starter.
Offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins returned after missing about a week with a shoulder stinger. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound junior is a versatile player when healthy.
“I think he could potentially be a starter for us. I really do,” offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said. “He can play guard and tackle, and that’s going to help us out. We’ve got to have players like him.”
USC got one lineman back, but had another go out. Starting guard Terrence Campbell was not at practice after spraining his left ankle Thursday.
Spencer Lanning is one of 30 players on the preseason watch list for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top place-kicker. Lanning, a senior from Rock Hill, was a Groza semifinalist last season when he connected on 17-of-20 field goals, with a long of 47 yards. He led USC with 79 points, the seventh-highest, single-season total in school history.
Already sidelined following shoulder surgery, offensive tackle Quintin Richardson has been suspended indefinitely since his girlfriend claimed he assaulted her last week. No charges were filed, although Richardson must go through the campus disciplinary system before USC coach Steve Spurrier decided on his status.
Quote of the day
“They played hard. There wasn’t a lot of missed assignments. Limited on the sacks – they protected pretty well for the most part. I just think they’re gaining confidence. I don’t know if they’ll play worth a flip come Sept. 2, but I see (them) becoming confident,” – Elliott on his line.
Free safety D.J. Swearinger is cross-training at boundary safety, while cornerback Chris Culliver is taking reps at his old free safety spot. Elliott said he will use a three-man rotation at tackle with Jarriel King, Hutch Eckerson and Kyle Nunn, but has not settled on starters.
As they do every summer, representatives of the S.C. Watermelon Association visited practice to provide watermelon slices to players, coaches and others after practice.
The Gamecocks will hold a closed scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium at 10 a.m. Saturday.