Notebook: Gamecocks lose starting fullback to ankle injury

12/31/2013 12:16 PM

12/31/2013 2:51 PM

South Carolina will head into the Capital One Bowl down to its third fullback.

Starter Connor McLaurin “cracked an ankle” during Tuesday’s practice, joining backup Jordan Diaz (knee) on the disabled list and leaving the No. 8 Gamecocks paper thin at that position when they play No. 19 Wisconsin at 1 p.m.

“He was just running down the field covering a kickoff, slipped, cut off the wrong foot,” Spurrier said of McLaurin. “We still will have two backs in there some.”

Walk-on Garrison Gist will be the starting fullback and backup tailback Brandon Wilds will be available there if needed, Spurrier said.

“Gist is our man right now,” Spurrier said. “I think he played about three plays against Coastal and that’s about all he’s played all year.”

Spurrier won’t be afraid to call plays from his two-back formation despite Gist’s inexperience, he said, and the coaching staff was giving him a crash course on the offense as late as Tuesday morning.

“We were trying to straighten him out this morning,” Spurrier said. “We were watching tape of yesterday’s practice, and he was going the wrong way a couple times. I think he’s OK in there in the two-back stuff.”

Staff stability

Wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Monday he would be interested in Duke’s vacant offensive coordinator position if the Blue Devils contact him about the job. His father and boss was asked Tuesday if he thinks Spurrier Jr. is ready for the job and if he would recommend him for the job.

“I think all assistant coaches need to be flexible and open-minded and try to make good decisions, but I am reminded by our assistant coaches,” Spurrier said. “We have hired guys where their staff all got fired. It’s pretty neat when you can be somewhere seven or eight years and the head coach doesn’t get fired. That doesn’t happen all over the place. There is something nice about being in the same town, your kids go to the same schools six, eight, 10 years in a row if you can do that, but again if a coach wants to be a head coach maybe the next step is coordinator and go from there. There are good times to move in coaching, and other times maybe if you’ve got a good job hang onto it.”

Valuable asset

South Carolina’s players and coaches have joked with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney about putting off the throng of autograph seekers in Orlando until after the game “till after the game so he can start charging,” Spurrier said.

“He’ll be an instant pro when the game is over. He’s looking forward to it and we wish him the best. We all wondered if he’s got a limo to take him out of the ballpark tomorrow or not.”

Proven plan

After seeing that Florida hired Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper last week, Spurrier joked the Gators are “finally figuring out you have to go to Duke for football coaches.”

Spurrier left his position as Duke’s head coach in 1990 to become Florida’s head coach.

“They know where to go for a football school,” Spurrier said.

The X-factor

Connor Shaw’s ability to escape the pocket and make plays is a concern for Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen.

“If you just look at Connor and watch him play football what comes to my mind is coach’s kid,” Andersen said. “He can hurt you with his arm and legs and his mind. He’s got a lot of miles on him.”

Shaw’s experience makes him hard to fool, Andersen said.

“When you mix Coach Spurrier and Shaw together in that offense, it’s a pretty vicious weapon,” Andersen said. “Pre-snap most times they get that they want. That’s one of the challenges for us is to not let them get the play call they want pre-snap. That’s the key for us is to hope we can confuse them a little bit.”


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