Michael Washington, a 27-year-old junior walk-on who spent four years in the Marine Corps after high school, is set to get playing time at defensive end this week, Steve Spurrier said.
Washington, 6-foot-3, 237 pounds, had scholarship offers from South Carolina, Clemson and N.C. State as a safety coming out of Allendale-Fairfax in 2005 but joined the military. He walked on at South Carolina State in 2011 before transferring to South Carolina in 2012.
“Michael Washington has practiced pretty well,” Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks are looking for any help they can get on the defensive line. They briefly moved backup offensive tackle Na’Ty Rodgers to defensive end last week to see if he could help provide pass rush, but Rodgers returned to offense quickly.
“That experiment didn’t last very long,” Spurrier said.
Spurrier reiterated Wednesday during the SEC teleconference that he is planning a more positive approach in the second half of the season.
“I think you can only scream and yell about once or twice a year, so I have already done that,” he said. “We are all trying to be positive around here. I really do believe we have outstanding senior leaders, and I believe they want to do well. We are trying the positive approach the best we can, and, hopefully, we will get some better play.
“We really believe we’ve got a good team. We have to win the close ones, just like we have won in the past.”
The Gamecocks voted on permanent team captains this week and selected quarterback Dylan Thompson, offensive lineman A.J. Cann, defensive tackle J.T. Surratt and spur Sharrod Golightly. All four are seniors.
Freshman Bryson Allen-Williams is “very doubtful” because of a concussion, Spurrier said. Allen-Williams, a starting outside linebacker in the 3-4 formation, has 10 tackles and four quarterback hurries this season.
Offensive guard Mike Matulis practiced lightly Wednesday and has “a slight” chance to play against Furman, offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said. Matulis was projected as South Carolina’s starting right guard in August but hasn’t played this season because of a knee sprain. Elliott expressed more optimism that Matulis could be ready for the Oct. 25 trip to Auburn.
“We are just going to try to ease him back into it, so we will see,” Elliott said.
Offensive tackle Corey Robinson returned to practice after missing time with an ankle sprain and is expected to play. Offensive guard Cody Waldrop (knee) remains doubtful.
“We don’t want to lose him again,” Elliott said. “To rush him back and have him injure himself one more time is not what we want to do. We will put him in there when he is good and healthy.”
Tailback Brandon Wilds (knee) practiced Wednesday and indicated he could be available to play against the Paladins.
“Playing it by ear, really,” he said. “If they need me, they need me.”
Defensive end Mason Harris (illness), defensive end David Johnson (knee), defensive end Cedrick Cooper (ankle), offensive lineman Donell Stanely (wrist) and cornerback Jamari Smith (foot) did not practice or wore yellow, no-contact jerseys.