Starting right guard Ronald Patrick remains doubtful for Saturday’s game against Tennessee, and it looks like either true freshman Na’Ty Rodgers or sophomore Will Sport will take his place.
Rodgers and Sport have taken all the first-team snaps at right guard this week, left guard A.J. Cann said. Asked if he was comfortable with the inexperienced Rodgers or Sport in the lineup, South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott replied, “Do I have a choice?”
“They will go out there and play hard,” Elliott said. “I know they will give their all, so we’ll see what happens.”
Rodgers, 6-foot-5, 296 pounds, was a four-star prospect in Waldorf, Md., last season. He has been listed as Patrick’s top backup most of the season. Sport was a three-star prospect out of Milton, Fla., in 2011. He redshirted as a freshman and played in 12 of 13 games, mostly on special teams, last season. He has played sparingly this fall.
“We feel comfortable with either one, to tell you the truth,” Cann said.
Elliott has not ruled out Patrick, who was no longer wearing a cast on his ankle as of Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s feeling pretty decent, so we’re still going to wait and see (if he can play on Saturday),” Elliott said.
Wide receiver Bruce Ellington (foot), defensive tackle J.T. Surrat (ankle), safety Chaz Elder (concussion), running back Brandon Wilds (elbow) and Patrick were in yellow, non-contact jerseys and did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.
Linebacker Skai Moore (concussion) returned to practice but with limited contact. Center Cody Waldrop aggravated an ankle injury this week and likely will not travel with the team to Tennessee, Elliott said.
Ellington, the Gamecocks' leading receiver, has not practiced all week.
“I don’t know if he’ll play or not,” wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said.
Surratt, a starter who has 18 tackles, was injured during Tuesday’s practice and used one crutch and a walking boot to get around Wednesday. If he can’t play, Gerald Dixon Jr. or Phillip Dukes probably would move into the starting lineup.
Running back Brandon Wilds has missed two games and will miss at least one more because of an elbow injury, running backs coach Everette Sands said. Wilds could return in time for the Nov. 2 game against Mississippi State.
Cann and running back Mike Davis were named Wednesday to Phil Steele’s Midseason All-SEC team. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles was named to the second team, and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was named to the third team.
Saturday’s game will pit Clowney against Tennessee offensive tackle Tiny Richardson. Their matchup last season was one of Clowney’s toughest.
“They will be the best offensive line we have seen up to this point,” South Carolina defensive line coach Deke Adams said. “They are very talented, big guys who can really move. So, it’s going to be a challenge for us. I think it’ll be a big challenge for Jadeveon and all the guys because they will be put in some situations where they are one-on-one and they have to produce.”
Steve Spurrier was asked during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference how much time he spends each week researching his vote in the weekly coaches poll.
“I don’t know how much time,” he said. “How much time do sportswriters put into their poll?”
Freshman defensive tackle David Johnson probably will redshirt this season, Adams said.
“You never know what the season holds, but it’s getting late in the year, and I would think that would only happen if it was an emergency situation,” Adams said.