Many ignored the “OR” listed beside Brandon Wilds’ name on the preseason depth chart. They just saw Mike Davis’ name listed above Wilds and figured that Davis was the No. 1 running back.
With 16 days to go until the season-opener, though, nothing’s definite. Davis has done nothing to lose his status as a No. 1, or co-starter, however it’s termed, but neither has Wilds, and neither has third-string Shon Carson.
It’s a good problem to have, running backs coach Everette Sands said on Tuesday.
“(Saturday’s scrimmage) muddied the waters because everybody had some good runs,” Sands said. “I want guys that I don’t have to have a second thought, get in there and I know that he can get it done. I believe that it’s good that I have three that I can choose from.”
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Davis and Wilds have practiced well, and Carson, after missing almost all of his first two seasons due to injury, has also showed off. Sands would like to play three backs per game, if he could, with the third receiving just a handful of carries, but right now, he says he’s in no rush to decide who’s No. 1.
“(Carson has) looked well,” Sands said. “He’s done a lot of good things. I think he’s pretty close to the form he was back in 2011. It’s still a very close run.”
How’s the competition among the backs?
“Turn’t up,” Davis said. “It’s going great so far. They haven’t told me much. They’ve told me to keep my head on straight.”
Long way to go
Coach Steve Spurrier commented on a story in The State on Tuesday that said that despite USC’s lofty preseason ranking, the players were largely anonymous. Only Jadeveon Clowney is drawing massive attention, while a group of players that has combined to win 22 games over the past two seasons is largely ignored.
“We have next to the bottom of the SEC in all-conference players,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got four guys, one first-teamer and three second-team All-SEC guys. Our expectations, hopefully with our players, need to be known, that we’re not a super-duper team by any means.
“We don’t have a bunch of superstars right now. Now hopefully, as the year plays out, a bunch of these guys may develop into all-conference players. But we’re an unknown team. We got one superstar and that’s it, and everybody knows who he is, but one superstar doesn’t win many championships, as we all know.”
Connor Shaw, A.J. Cann, Kelcy Quarles, Rory “Busta” Anderson and Bruce Ellington have been mentioned on some watch lists during the preseason. Clowney, naturally, is on the watch lists for several national awards.
Following an 0-for-6 performance from the post-scrimmage field goal attempts on Saturday, Spurrier mentioned the Gamecocks’ kicking game as part of the long process before USC is ready to play.
“We don’t even have a snapper or a kicker right now that we know’s going to do it,” he remarked.
Presumptive starting kicker Landon Ard is back at practice after a groin pull cost him a few days. Behind him are Nick St. Germain and Elliott Fry.
“Going into camp, a couple of kicks, a couple of days in, it kind of got tweaked, I guess,” Ard said. “I’ll get rehab and try to get back. I’ve been doing kickoffs.”
At long snapper, USC is repping Coleman Harley and Ryland Culbertson.
NFL scouts from the Patriots, Seahawks (two), Raiders and Eagles attended practice.
Damiere Byrd (hamstring) and Clowney (shoulder) each practiced, as well as Kyle Fleetwood (hamstring). Bryce King returned to practice after a brief absence with his left hand encased in ice.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: King (left hand), Clayton Stadnik, Chaz Sutton (sprained foot), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated elbow), Bruce Ellington (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (dislocated left elbow), Rory “Busta” Anderson (hamstring), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
The Gamecocks will practice again at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. It is closed to the public.
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