True freshman Ronald Patrick saw action in the second half against Arkansas last week when center T.J. Johnson was lost to a sprained knee.
Johnson initially was replaced by junior Chris Vaughn, but after the team called a timeout on that play, Patrick took the job.
The Gamecocks had hoped to redshirt Patrick after he suffered a minor injury earlier this season, Steve Spurrier said, but they had to use him in the second half Saturday after Johnson was injured. Johnson is expected to be back this week against Florida.
“Ronald Patrick came in there and snapped the ball pretty well and did a decent job,” Spurrier said. “Ronald needs to play a little bit now as we go through the season.”
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The 6-foot-1, 292-pound freshman was a three-star prospect out of Cocoa, Fla., last year.
Talk about your experience getting to play last week against Arkansas.
It was a situation that was kind of bad to go into. I just prepared all week because they always tell me, "You never know what might happen." So I just stayed with it all week and prepared. ... I always go in every week preparing like I might play.
Have they been working you in for a few snaps during practice to be able to come in and give T.J. a breather?
I'm always worked in. They make sure of that. It's pretty much the same rotation, getting a couple of snaps.
When T.J. got hurt, Chris Vaughn went in to snap. Then a timeout was called. At what point did you know you were going in?
During that timeout. Once I saw that T.J. went down, I started warming up, preparing myself. In practice, I play right behind him. When he went down, I was preparing myself. I didn't know what to expect.
What was going through your mind as you entered the game?
The first thing I was thinking about was, "This is why I came here." I came here at the beginning of the summer, working hard and working hard. I never knew what was going to happen. When it happened, I went out there. I just said, "This is what I worked for."
Did offensive line coach Shawn Elliott or anyone have any final words with you before they put you out there?
Just play ball.
Are you excited to play in front of your home-state folks this weekend?
Of course. It's Florida. I've got a lot of people I know back home. Playing in The Swamp, I'm excited. I'm just trying not to be overexcited.
Do you anticipate playing this week?
If they need me I'll play. I just want to win. Whatever they need me to do, I'll do it.
What do you know about Spurrier's connection to Florida?
I know he's a legend down there. He did a lot of great things at Florida. I heard about him a lot when I was growing up. Everybody knows about Coach Spurrier in Florida.
What's the mindset of the team heading into such a big game?
We've got it in our minds, it's just another game. We've got to go out there and prepare, and take it one game at a time. ... We're just focused on ourselves. We want to go out there and set the tone from beginning to end, 60 minutes of football. That's all we're concentrating on.