South Carolina could have Melvin Ingram back in the lineup for Saturday’s Kentucky game, assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson said after Thursday’s practice, although coach Steve Spurrier is less optimistic.
“It was a more optimistic comment today on him that it was Sunday, Monday,” Johnson said.
Ingram has not practiced all week due to a sprained foot.
“It’s not a real serious thing, but it’s something you have to take seriously,” Johnson said. “It looks a lot better than they thought it would. I just don’t know if he’ll have a shot this Saturday.”
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If Ingram can’t play, freshman Jadeveon Clowney “probably” will take his place in the starting lineup, Johnson said. Clowney would definitely fill the position if he hadn’t missed two days of practice this week. He missed one day to attend to “an issue” in his hometown of Rock Hill and missed another due to an academic meeting, Johnson said.
“With a freshman, you get concerned about him being clean on the game plan,” Johnson said.
Sophomore Chaz Sutton will start if Ingram can’t play and the Gamecocks determine Clowney isn’t ready.
Spurrier said Thursday night on Carolina Calls on 107.5 FM that Ingram is out this week. Wide receiver Jason Barnes will return this week from a hamstring injury, coach Spurrier said.
Quarterback Stephen Garcia missed Thursday’s practice to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Tampa, Fla. He will return Friday, Spurrier said on 107.5.
However, Garcia might not be the top backup for sophomore Connor Shaw. Garcia suffered a minor elbow injury against Auburn and has been limited in practice this week, Spurrier said. Garcia's non-throwing elbow was wrapped in the second half of Saturday's game.
Dylan Thompson and Andrew Clifford have worked as backups in practice this week.
“Hopefully, Connor can go the distance, but we’ll see how Stephen’s condition is,” Spurrier said.
AUGUSTE STILL HAS SHOT
Senior cornerback Akeem Auguste, who has only played in one game this year due to a left foot injury, may redshirt but could still return to the field this season, Johnson said.
“No decision has been made,” Johnson said.
The Gamecocks will make a decision by the Oct. 22 open date, Johnson predicted.
Until Connor Shaw was announced as South Carolina’s starting quarterback this week, his dad was headed to Chattanooga to see older brother Jaybo play for Georgia Southern. Lee Shaw and his wife Dawn split their Saturdays between their two sons’ football games and alternate their trips weekly.
Dawn Shaw was scheduled to come to Columbia this weekend to watch the Gamecocks play Kentucky but because she attended Connor Shaw’s first start of the season, against East Carolina, she agreed to swap this week so Lee could see Connor start.
Jaybo Shaw is starting for the Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the football championship subdivision.
“I just have to pinch myself every once in awhile and say, ‘You know what? ‘You are living a dream,’ and I know my sons are living their dreams,” Lee Shaw said.
East Carolina head coach Ruffin McNeill credited Garcia this week for South Carolina’s comeback win against his team on Sept. 3.
“Stephen came in and did a great job of moving their offense and giving them a lot of energy,” McNeill told The State.
He has no clue, he said, how Garcia has gone from that player to the one who threw six interceptions in two weeks and has been benched in favor of Shaw.
“We have to remember that we have been their age. They have never been ours,” McNeill said. “They are still young kids. They have class, love lives, what have you, situations that go on. We as adults have to understand, they probably have some things going on that we don’t know about and that they might not let us know about. I think there’s a lot that goes into it.”
McNeill expects that Garcia’s story at South Carolina will not end with his chapter.
“He’s a great, great football player. He’s a great leader. Everybody has ups and downs,” he said. “I’m sure Stephen will work through it and be able to come back and be a great player. All I know is when we played them, he was what we thought he was and did a great, great, great job against us.”