Shawn Elliott and Ruffin McNeill haven’t talked on the phone this week, haven’t talked on the phone in a while, actually, but they remain big fans of each other’s work.
Elliott, South Carolina’s offensive line coach, was an all-conference defensive end at Appalachian State in the mid-90s when McNeill, East Carolina’s head coach, was Appalachian State’s defensive coordinator.
“We were really close as a player and a coach so wherever he made a stop, I knew where he was,” Elliott said. “If we ever go to a convention, we always talk and hang out a little bit. We don’t speak on the phone all that often, but we’re very close.”
They will get a chance to catch up Saturday before the No. 12 Gamecocks play the Pirates at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte at 7 p.m.
“I loved that guy, man,” McNeill said of Elliott. “Shawn was one of those guys who helped us win championships. He was smart as a whip. He had a competitive desire to excel. He was one of those players as a coach that you didn’t worry about. It doesn’t surprise me that he has carried on that success into coaching.”
Elliott and McNeill rarely talk unless their paths cross, both men said..
“Shawn knows I love him. I know he loves me,” McNeill said. “I’d do anything in the world for Shawn. I know he’d do anything in the world for me.”
Elliott feels the same way, he said.
“If I were to walk up to him tomorrow and say, ‘Hey, I need some help,’ he’s going to help me and the same with me,” Elliott said. “I’d do anything for him.”
The Gamecocks “have an idea” about who their starting quarterback will be, head coach Steve Spurrier said Wednesday on the weekly SEC teleconference.
“But they are still battling for it,” he said of senior Stephen Garcia and sophomore Connor Shaw. “We’re just going to have (competition) right up through Thursday or so. Don’t be surprised, it could be Connor Shaw.”
WILSON WINS JOB
Junior walk-on Dalton Wilson won the starting fullback job and impressed his head coach along the way.
“He’s a player that certainly deserves a scholarship and he’s still a walk-on. I wish we had one available for him right now, but we don’t. That’s sort of the nature of sports. Some walk-ons are probably a little bit more deserving than ones that are on there. Certainly, Dalton is a little bit more deserving than someone else. He’s the starting fullback and he can play a little bit of tight end in there. He’s a good player.”
QUEEN CITY NO FRIEND
South Carolina is 4-9-1 all-time in games played in Charlotte. That record includes being shut out six times. The Gamecocks, who have played Davidson and Wake Forest in Charlotte, haven’t played in the city since 1959.
“You just concentrate about playing the game the best you can, it doesn’t matter where it is,” Spurrier said. “Once you kick it off, you don’t say, ‘Man, I’m in Charlotte, I’m in Columbia here, I’m in Williams-Brice, I’m between the hedges, I’m in Rocky Top,’ you don’t say that, you just try to play the game. I think that’s what their minds would be on right there.”
The Pirates have had plenty of time to prepare for the absence of All-Conference USA cornerback Emanuel Davis and starting wide receiver Michael Bowman, McNeill said. The pair was suspended in June following arrests. Bowman was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting a public officer, and Davis was charged with being intoxicated and disruptive in public and resisting a public officer.
“The next guy has to step up,” McNeill said. “When somebody goes down, the next guy has to pick up the flag. We will miss those guys, but we don’t have much time to lick our wounds with that.”
The Gamecocks will be dealing with their own suspension issues as spur DeVonte Hollman (arrest) and cornerbacks Vic Hampton (academics) and Martay Mattox (academics) will miss the opening game due to suspension. Freshman linebacker Edward Muldrow also faces a one-game suspension but probably wouldn’t have cracked the lineup anyway.
Steve Spurrier Jr.
Justice Cunningham, Kyle Nunn and Joey Scribner-Howard