Special teams coordinator Joe Robinson was as blunt as a pointless needle.
How’s the battle for place-kicker and long snapper?
“Wide-open,” South Carolina’s second-year assistant said on Wednesday. “Wide-open.”
Following a scrimmage where projected starting kicker Landon Ard didn’t participate (he had a minor groin pull but is back at practice) and the other candidates went a combined 0-for-6 in post-scrimmage field goal tries, coach Steve Spurrier mentioned that the Gamecocks were looking for consistent kickers and long snappers. Robinson didn’t veer from that statement.
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Asked for a top candidate at kicker, Robinson listed all of his kickers – Ard, Nick St. Germain, Elliott Fry, Caleb Kelly and Max Huggins. Asked for a top candidate at long snapper, Robinson listed all of his long snappers – Ryland Culbertson, Coleman Harley, Jeff Homad and Drew Williams.
“Not at all,” Robinson said, referring to both positions.
He’s only looking for consistency. Some have done it in practice, nobody’s done it in the brief scrimmage session.
“They can all do it, or they wouldn’t be here,” Robinson said. “The problem is, they got to do it consistently. If they can do that, we’re in business.”
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney missed some practices with a bruised shoulder, but has since returned. His mate on the other end of the line, Chaz Sutton, remains sidelined with a sprained foot.
“Chaz is still out,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “We just want to make sure his foot is well so it’s not something that’s going to be lingering all season.”
Sutton would be fine to play if the game was tomorrow, but Ward obviously wants a key part of the defense to practice. When Clowney sees the double-teams that he assuredly will this season, Sutton could take advantage and have a huge year.
Then there are the backups, such as redshirt freshman Darius English. He impressed in his first preseason camp last year and has done nothing to back away from that. He’ll play a lot this year, particularly in the Gamecocks’ “Rabbits” package.
“I learn something new every day, playing behind them,” English said. “I’m ready to be on the field this year. I’ll substitute whenever they get tired, the ‘Rabbits’ package and things like that.”
ESPN analyst and national championship-winning quarterback Todd Blackledge attended practice on Wednesday. He briefly spoke with USC’s Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson afterward.
Spurrier, in some quick comments afterward, said that USC is still tinkering with the two-quarterback system, but Shaw remains the starter. “Dylan is going to play somewhere, it looks like,” he said.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: 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 8:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Those workouts are closed to the public.