First-year special teams coordinator Joe Robinson has a plan for the Gamecocks’ kickoff team, but he’s not willing to share it yet.
New rules regarding kickoffs (they will be made from the 35-yard line this year rather than the 30-yard, and a touchback will come out to the 25-yard line rather than the 20-yard line) are designed to produce more touchbacks and thus fewer collisions on special teams. However, many special teams coaches have considered attempting a higher kick that does not go into the end zone in hope of pinning an opponent inside the 25-yard line.
“I think most coaches are going to be pretty happy with a touchback still,” Robinson said, but he would not commit to that plan himself.
“We have a plan right now with our kickers, and we’ll see what happens,” he said.
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Robinson also said the battle for the team’s punting job could continue into Thursday night’s game. Patrick Fish and Tyler Hull are listed as co-starters on the depth chart. Hull will be the first punter into the game, Spurrier said Tuesday night.
“We’ve got a couple guys who are still battling it out right out until the last minute,” Robinson said. “They are doing a great job. I don’t know right now that I can tell you for sure (who will start), but I know they have both put themselves in a position to play.”
LEGREE KEEPS JOB
Jimmy Legree will start ahead of Ahmad Christian at cornerback against the Commodores, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed Tuesday.
“He’s been in the system a lot longer,” Ward said. “Ahmad is still learning but Ahmad is close. Ahmad will play.”
WIDE RECEIVER ROTATION
South Carolina will expect its top three wide receivers – junior Ace Sanders, sophomore Bruce Ellington and senior D.L. Moore – to carry most of the load against Vanderbilt and for the foreseeable future, wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. That approach is a change from 2011, when the Gamecocks went into the season with a much larger rotation.
“The first three are going to play a lot, and then we will spot the other guys in there and see how it goes,” Spurrier Jr. said. “Hopefully, they will all play.”
The Gamecocks top three backups at receiver are freshman Shaq Roland, sophomore Damiere Byrd and junior DeAngelo Smith, Spurrier Jr. said.
Redshirt freshman running back Shon Carson, who missed last season due to a knee injury, could miss all of the 2012 season due to his dislocated wrist, coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday night on his radio call-in show.
Carson was injured during a preseason practice. Spurrier originally said Carson was expected back midseason.
“He could be out all year, or he could get back for a bowl game,” Spurrier said.
MATULIS TO START
Sophomore Mike Matulis will play the first play of Thursday night’s game at right tackle, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott confirmed this week, but that’s as far as Elliott is willing to look into the future.
Sophomore Cody Gibson entered camp as the No. 1 tackle before losing the job to Matulis. Both players started multiple games last season.
“Matulis may walk out there and trip over a rock. I have no idea,” Elliott said. “I don’t have a plan. It’s a feel thing. If Mike is playing well, he’ll probably go (the entire game). If he’s not playing well, we’ll make substitutions.”
Elliott also cautioned reporters about making too much of the debut of left tackle Brandon Shell, a five-star recruit who redshirted last season.
“This thing has nothing to do with Brandon Shell,” Elliott said. “Y’all act like it’s the second coming of somebody. We’re excited to get out there and play as a football team. I want five guys. That’s who I am excited about, those five starting guys. I don’t care about individuals.”
Thursday will mark the sixth time in Spurrier’s eight seasons the Gamecocks have started the season with a Thursday night game. The early time slot allows South Carolina a national TV audience with limited competition from other games, and senior tailback Kenny Miles can remember South Carolina first catching his eye on a Thursday night game during his junior year of high school in 2006.
“You have to come out there and show the nation what you’ve been doing in the offseason,” Miles said. “What better way than to do it than on Thursday night.”
ROYSTER TO RUTGERS
Safety Sheldon Royster, who left the South Carolina program this past weekend, will transfer to Rutgers, according to multiple reports.
Quarterback Tanner McEvoy landed at Arizona Western Junior College after leaving the Gamecocks.
Cornerback Cadarious Sanders transferred to Murray State.
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