David Cloninger

Lorenzo Nunez hasn’t shrunk from challenge of leading team

South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Lorenzo Nunez (19) is congratulated by wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (11) after their win over UCF.
South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Lorenzo Nunez (19) is congratulated by wide receiver Pharoh Cooper (11) after their win over UCF. gmelendez@thestate.com

Sports is always looking for leaders, and in football, it’s usually the guy under center. He’s always going to have the ball in his hands, if only for a second or two, so he has the focus on him.

Lorenzo Nunez had enough pressure on him without being looked at as the leader for a lot of players with a lot of years and game experience on him. Yet, Steve Spurrier said, he doesn’t mind.

Because he doesn’t feel anything extra. He just wants to play football.

“That’ll take care of itself as long as you’re here,” Spurrier said while crediting Nunez’s toughness. “Those are the kinds of things that your teammates admire and respect about you.”

The Gamecocks knew he had to give a big contribution against UCF, but they probably didn’t think he would be 75 percent of the offense.

That’s simply the way it is. The Gamecocks don’t have playmakers other than Pharoh Cooper. They thought some would emerge. None have.

So the quarterback has to be one. I think that’s a big reason why Spurrier gave the reins to Nunez immediately after the Georgia debacle. Cooper is useless without somebody to get the ball to him, and Spurrier could run only so many direct snaps to a wide receiver.

To Nunez’s credit, he didn’t shrink from the challenge. I doubt he went under center the first time and thought, “Time to lead.”

But there is that expression, “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”

He led.

9.29.15. South Carolina quarterback Lorenzo Nunez is set to start against Missouri on Saturday.

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