Some of South Carolina’s fourth-year juniors might walk Saturday on senior day. Linebacker Skai Moore won’t be one of them.
The prolific third-year starter said after Tuesday’s practice he will not walk, but has not decided if he will leave early for the NFL. It came on the heels of news star receiver Pharoh Cooper will forgo his final season as a Gamecock.
“I’ve definitely thought about it, but not too much thought,” Moore said. “I’ll sit down and talk to my family after the season. I am taking it week by week, playing it slow right now.”
Moore said he was leaning one way but would not reveal his thinking.
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“I’ve kind of got a little gut feeling, but I’m still going to talk to the family first and see what they say,” he said.
South Carolina interim football coach Shawn Elliott said during his weekly news conference that several juniors had spoken to him about walking. He declined to say who and said he had not spoken about it to Cooper or Moore.
“There’s a few that have come to us and are deciding whether they’re going to walk on Saturday or not,” Elliott said. “You’ll find out on Saturday”
Outside a potential early departure for the NFL, fourth-year juniors often leave if they’re in good position to finish up degrees and move on, and their final year likely won’t feature heavy contributions (those departures can also open scholarships). South Carolina has 18 redshirt juniors, six who have not played this season and four who have not seen notable roles to this point in their careers.
Here to the end
A few days removed from a loss against an FCS team, Elliott seemed chipper and upbeat. Asked about his job status and if he’s still under consideration, he said he doesn’t know if he still has a shot, but can only approach it like he does, telling himself he does until he’s told he does not.
“I’m not a guy that gives up or quits,” Elliott said. “They’re going to have to kick me out of here and tell me I didn’t get it or I’ve been reassigned or I’ve got to do something else before I give up on anything.”
Late in his final weekly radio call-in show, he sounded wistful about the experience of leading the Gamecocks. He thanked and praised fellow coaches. He admitted he told the players he wasn’t sure he’d be their coach in four or five days. He said he and his family will be fine, and there’s a certain pride in the stamp he put on the program in his time as an assistant and head coach.
“So thankful to have a part,” Elliott said. “If I don’t ever get to step another foot in Williams-Brice Stadium, I’m going to be so proud that I was here.”
Elliott reveled tight end Jerell Adams was the one who shifted his stance and drew a penalty that erased Pharoh Cooper’s 94-yard, would-be game-winning touchdown. The television feed didn’t reveal the number of the player who was not set, negating the play.
Tigers’ heavy front
Clemson’s defense is a tall task for most offenses, and although the strength is against the pass, the Tigers can schematically cause problems against the run. That’s not the best thing to see for a South Carolina offense that was stonewalled on the ground by The Citadel
Gamecocks offensive guard Mike Matulis rattled off a list of adjectives about the Tigers’ front, big, strong, etc., and while it is good, Clemson augments that with an aggressive philosophy. Safety T.J. Green often slides down into the box, making the going tougher inside.
“It’s going to be a big task, not denying that,” tailback Brandon Wilds said. “Just, hopefully, me and my linemen can come together Saturday at noon and work our magic.”
Interim coach Elliott will face the most successful interim coach in recent memory.
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney was a receivers coach when he was called up to replace Tommy Bowden, but won enough games to secure the job. Elliott said Swinney exudes a sort of confidence, but he also has structured his program in an effective way.
“He was blessed with some pretty fine football players at that time,” Elliott said. “Propelled that into him getting the job and made the right moves hiring a good staff.
“The recruiting, of course, to step up the recruiting and do what they’ve done in recruiting, all those 4- and 5-star players, let me tell you, they’ve got them rolling in and out of there.”
Elliott said right tackle Mason Zandi will try to practice Wednesday through a high ankle sprain. He won’t be 100 percent, but still could go against Clemson.
Reserve quarterback Lorenzo Nunez practiced Monday and Tuesday, so Elliott said he should be able to play. Elliott said Saturday he expected Nunez to be available against The Citadel, but Nunez said he didn’t feel ready to play.
Terry Googer (concussion) and Chris Lammons (back) did not practice Tuesday.