South Carolina’s fans and coaches will see a very familiar face Saturday night when Brad Lawing returns to Williams-Brice Stadium.
Lawing was an assistant coach with the Gamecocks for 17 seasons until he left abruptly in January to take the defensive line coaching job at Florida, ending a seven-year stretch as South Carolina’s defensive line coach. Lawing also worked for the Gamecocks from 1989-1998.
Lawing’s return has not been a focus for South Carolina’s coaches this week, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said.
“I know what you’re getting to, but I hadn’t even thought of it,” Elliott said. “It’s our team against their team.”
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South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier doesn’t think the Gamecocks will have to change their offensive signals or snap counts due to Lawing’s familiarity with their offensive system.
“Not really,” he said. “Most everybody has about the same snap count they use all year long. Everybody’s got to watch the ball anyway. They may know some of our signals, but very seldom do you ever see anybody trying to listen to what the quarterback says. Usually, the other team’s defense is trying to get their signals also when our quarterback is yelling out our plays. But we always watch to see if the linemen say ‘Hey, coming over here.’ ‘Hey, coming over there.’ If that occurs, then we change the way we play call a little bit.”
Florida officials declined to make Lawing available for an interview with The State this week. Gator position coaches typically do not speak to the media during the season.
Spurrier hired Deke Adams to replace Lawing, and Adams became a target of some fan’s ire when the South Carolina defense started slowly, but Spurrier said this week that Adams “has done an excellent job.”
“He’s an excellent coach,” Spurrier said. “I really like the way he handles his guys - excellent recruiter. He’s got a good defensive personality about him. He does a super job.”
Junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles has paced the South Carolina defensive line this season with seven sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss. The development of tackle Gerald Dixon Jr. and end Gerald Dixon has also been a bright spot, in contract to end Jadeveon Clowney’s two sacks.
“I think we are a long way from where we were when we started camp. They are understanding a lot better,’ ” Adams said. “We are cutting the game plan down a little bit and allowing them to play. It’s been good for them. Just like anybody else, I know there is room for improvement in everything that I do and everything that we do. I feel like I have adjusted well to the guys and the guys have adjusted well to me, and I look forward to being here for a long time.”
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward has talked to Lawing “several times” this season, but they haven’t talked this week, Ward said.
“I have nothing but the utmost respect for Brad Lawing,” Ward said.
Safety Brison Williams is “70 percent” healthy after suffering a sprained ankle in practice this week, Ward said after Thursday’s practice. Williams did not practice Thursday but ran and changed direction, Ward said.
“I think he will (play),” Ward said. “If he’s ready to play, he’ll start. If we get Brison to where he can play, we are very healthy.”
Ready for anything
With Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy questionable Saturday due to a shoulder injury, the Gamecocks must be prepared to face Gators freshman Skyler Mornhinweg, which is easier said than done. Mornhinweg, 6-2, 214 pounds, has never taken a collegiate snap.
“We know he’s from New Jersey,” Ward said.
Mornhinweg, who’s actually from Philadelphia, was a four-star recruit coming out Saint Joseph’s Prep, where he was the school’s all-time leading passer.
“If he was recruited by Florida, he’s a good football player,” Ward said. “We don’t know what we’re going to get. I’m sure we’ll get stressed at quarterback whether Murphy plays or not. If they play with the freshman, we have to make sure we stop the run because I’m sure that’s what they will do.”
Spurrier expects the Gators to use a Wildcat formation if Murphy is unavailable.
“We have practiced for it a bit,” Spurrier said on “Carolina Calls.” “It wouldn’t surprise me if they tried to do a lot of that if Tyler Murphy can’t play.”
Running back Mike Davis “probably” will play Saturday, Spurrier said on “Carolina Calls.” Davis suffered rib and shoulder injuries against Mississippi State two weeks ago.
“He should be ready to play,” Spurrier said.
Centers Cody Waldrop and Clayton Stadnik probably both will play, Spurrier said.