After gaining a career-high 102 yards on 13 carries in the win over Florida, backup tailback Shon Carson is slated to get the start with Mike Davis, the SEC’s leading rusher, still dinged up with an assortment of injuries.
Running backs coach Everette Sands noted Carson’s strong game but added that Davis did practice Wednesday night.
“He’s running around. He came out and ran a little bit today,” Sands said. “He’s still not feeling 100 percent, but if I had to have him, I’m sure we could get him. But we’ll wait and see what the trainers say.”
Carson was pleased with how he took advantage of the carries, especially since the coaches have seen enough to keep putting him back in the lineup.
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“That’s a confidence builder. We’ve got two good backs that can go over 100 yards at any time,” Carson said. “It feels good to get starts now that they’ve got more confidence in me. They trust me with the ball more now.”
Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, the co-offensive coordinator, was impressed with Carson.
“He brings power, speed and quickness. He runs hard. He’s got a great motor. It doesn’t take a whole lot to get him started,” Elliott said. “You give him just a small little crease and he can take it. He did a fine job last week, and I’m pleased with how he performed. Hopefully, he can have another big week for us.”
Sands was uncertain if third-team tailback Brandon Wilds, who was thought to be ready for the Florida game before not being able to play due to a hamstring injury, will be available against Coastal Carolina either.
Avoiding the upset
Elliott, an assistant coach at Appalachian State when the Mountaineers knocked off Michigan in 2007, always warns the players about staying focused against the top-level FCS teams.
Coastal Carolina (10-1) enters this game as the No. 7 team nationally in the FCS coaches poll. He doesn’t want to see the Gamecocks fall victim in a huge upset.
“You always have an opportunity to be that team, so to speak. From where I’m coming from, I’ve seen it first-hand,” Elliott said. “I know the excitement that an FCS opponent gets up for Division I (FBS) opponent. I know the feeling as coaches. I think everybody wants to prove a point and knock off the big dog. We better be ready for a fight because they’re a good football team.”
Coastal Carolina receiver DeMario Bennett began his career at USC but transferred after the 2010 season due to limited playing time.
The move has proven to be a good one for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Bennett, who has caught 38 passes for 570 yards and four touchdowns this season. He hauled in 43 passes for 599 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.
“He wasn't bad. He was a good player. I just wish he was a little bigger and a little tougher,” USC receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said. “He ran well, caught well, was a good player. He just felt like he could get more opportunities somewhere else. He was a backup here, a second-team guy here. He knew a bunch of people at Coastal and has certainly done very well there.”
Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (foot) returned to practice on Wednesday. Players who remained on the sidelines include defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (headache), safety Brison Williams (forearm), linebacker Cedrick Cooper (groin) and fullback Jordan Diaz (knee sprain).