The defensive line remained down a few players Tuesday morning, but position coach Brad Lawing wasn’t breaking a sweat over it.
Senior tackle Travian Roberston and senior end Byron McKnight have missed several days of practice with hamstring injuries, while sophomore end Chaz Sutton sat out Tuesday.
“They’re checking on a medical condition on Chaz. Hopefully, he’ll be back (Wednesday),” Lawing said. “Travian starts running again tomorrow, and Byron may be (out) about a week or so.”
But Lawing found a ray of sunshine in the absences.
“What it’s done has allowed us to practice a lot of these young kids now, which is good. They’re getting a lot of reps. So it’s not all bad,” he said.
Lawing certainly isn’t worried about Robertson or McKnight falling behind.
“Travian and Byron understand what they’re supposed to do. In fact, they’re out here coaching the young ones and helping out,” he said. “Of course, Chaz needs the work. His whole career, every time he gets going a little bit, he gets hurt.”
Assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson is worried that the injuries on the defensive line are hurting continuity at the position, he said.
“I think when Brad gets them all working together for several days in a row, I think maybe he’ll know who’s his best four and the next four and so on,” Johnson said.
Freshman defensive end Jadeveon Clowney returned Tuesday after missing Monday’s workout because he was in his hometown of Rock Hill attending to a “personal matter,” a school spokesperson said.
Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles was dehydrated Tuesday, Lawing said, and visited with trainers as practice concluded.
Junior Shaq Wilson has given up his familiar No. 16 jersey. Wilson has worn No. 54 the last two days of practice and confirmed Tuesday that it’s a permanent switch.
“I wanted a linebacker number,” he said. “I’m a linebacker, and I wanted to look like a linebacker. It isn’t anything major. A number doesn’t make anybody. I just wanted a different number.”
Point guard-turned-wide receiver Bruce Ellington got his first taste of the wildcat quarterback spot in Tuesday’s practice. Ellington took several snaps from the shotgun formation.
“We were going to keep that a secret,” Spurrier said. “That’s the problem with letting y’all in. We were going to get ready to play Georgia and East Carolina and we were going to surprise them with Bruce in the shotgun and now you’re going to tell everybody.”
Spurrier apparently was joking because he ran the plays during an open practice attended by a dozen media members and around 50 fans.
“We are going to have that available every game with either Bruce or Connor (Shaw),” Spurrier said.
Ellington’s work in the shotgun highlighted something that has become a problem in the first week of practice -- erratic snaps from center.
“The centers are worried about blocking the guy to the right or the left and not snapping,” he said. “T.J. (Johnson) was very good last year, but he has had some errant ones this year that we have to get straightened out.”
The university’s director of parking announced to the football team Monday that there are no pending parking tickets against South Carolina football players, Spurrier said.
“That’s the first time since I’ve been here,” Spurrier said. “Our guys have tendency to park where they are not supposed to and get a ticket or two, but that’s a good sign that our guys know the parking rules on campus right now.”
... The Gamecocks finished Tuesday’s practice with a short scrimmage session for their freshmen and other youngsters. Wide receivers Damiere Byrd, Lamar Scruggs and K.J. Brent stood out, Spurrier said.
Spurrier confirmed that he put place-kicker Jay Wooten on scholarship during Tuesday’s practice.
DeVonte Holloman has been playing the weakside linebacker spot in South Carolina’s dime defensive package, Wilson said.
The Gamecocks practice again Wednesday morning at 8:30. It is open to the public.
- Neil White contributed to this report
Steve Spurrier after practice
Ellis Johnson after practice
Shaq Wilson after practice
Aldrick Fordham after practice
Brad Lawing, C.C. Whitlock after practice