South Carolina is expected to be without three offensive starters Saturday afternoon against Missouri.
Steve Spurrier said on his call-in show Thursday night that running back Brandon Wilds, center Alan Knott and wide receiver Deebo Samuel aren’t expected to play against the Tigers.
Wilds is second on the team in rushing with 181 yards, behind only quarterback Lorenzo Nunez. He’s averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Samuel, who entered the season with high expectations, has three catches for 30 yards. Knott started the first three games of the year before injuring his ankle against Georgia. He didn’t play last week against UCF.
The Gamecocks will get cornerback Chris Lammons back. He started the first game of the year but has been out with a knee injury since.
Spurrier said the Gamecocks will open up the playbook this week and give Nunez a chance to make more plays in the passing game.
“We’ve got to try all of our plays and let Lorenzo Nunez throw the ball down the field,” he said. “Hopefully we’re going to do that from the beginning this week a little bit better than we did last week.”
The Gamecocks scored only eight points in the first half last week against UCF before putting up 23 in the second half.
“We have not played well offensively the first half at all this year,” Spurrier said. But part of it has been the other team has been on the field a whole bunch.”
Battle of Columbia
Spurrier said he has spoken with his team about how neat it would be to win the trophy in the “Battle of Columbia.” He said it is fun to pose for pictures after the game while hoisting the trophy.
“We’ve talked about that a little bit and that’s a fun thing. It would be a lot of fun if we could bring the trophy back to Columbia, South Carolina,” he said.
The South Carolina defense has shut out the opposing team’s offense three times in the second half so far this year. Spurier is hoping USC’s defense will play better in the first half moving forward, beginning against Missouri.
“Defensively, yea we’re not ranked very high, but we have shut out three of four opponents in the second half,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know if any team in the country has done that. So we can play defense. We just need to do that the whole game.”
K.C. Crosby sighting
Spurrier said redshirt freshman tight end K.C. Crosby will travel to Missouri and will play on special teams. He also may get involved some in the offense.
“He’s fast and he can catch the ball. We’re trying to mix him in a little bit more,” Spurrier said. “He is playing a lot of special teams now that he was not on earlier in the year. Now I think K.C. is saying ‘Hey, I need to go contribute on special teams or wherever,’ and he’s going to get his opportunity soon.”
Slowing the tempo
USC had an eight minute and 37 second drive against UCF in the fourth quarter, resulting in a field goal to put the game away. Spurrier said slowing down the tempo and having long, methodical drives is the best strategy for the Gamecocks.
“We ran off eight minutes and 37 seconds and we only picked up three or four first downs,” he said. “That’s the way we sort of feel like we need to do it to win, stay on the field and consume clock. We play a different game than the Big 12, and really Ole Miss plays that way too.”
▪ Jon Hoke said there hasn’t been that much of a change in the defensive scheme to prepare for Drew Lock other than Maty Mauk. “They’re going to run their offense,” Hoke said. Lock is not Mauk-mobile, but he’s mobile.
▪ CB Chris Lammons should be OK to play, while CB Chaz Elder was limited and may not. Spur Jasper Sasser will play.
▪ D.J. Smith may earn some more playing time at safety due to being a hard worker in practice. LB Jonathan Walton, despite being banged up, will play some as a backup at any linebacker position.
▪ Players who were injured or wore yellow jerseys were: C Alan Knott (sprained left ankle), RB Brandon Wilds (ribs), WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring), TE Connor Redmond (back), QB Gage Pucci (knee) and C Cody Waldrop (ankle). QB Connor Mitch (shoulder) is out 2-4 weeks. WR Shaq Davidson (knee) and WR Jerad Washington (left leg) are out for the season.
▪ The Gamecocks will walk through on Friday and then leave for Missouri. It is closed to the public.
David Cloninger contributed