The competition to be South Carolina’s starting right tackle is so close that one play can make a difference.
It did Wednesday, on the third snap of the Gamecocks’ scrimmage, when defensive end Devin Taylor pushed sophomore tackle Cody Gibson back into quarterback Connor Shaw, forcing a drive-killing sack.
“I told (Gibson), ‘You are second team now. You did not play like I wanted you to play,’” offensive line coach Shawn Elliott said. “He understood that.”
Elliott demoted Gibson on the spot, moving sophomore Mike Matulis into the top position for the remainder of the scrimmage, and Matulis worked there Thursday morning. Matulis started five games in 2011, while Gibson started four.
“I expect a lot more out of (Gibson) if he wants to win that starting job,” Elliott said. “When it’s the first series of the game, we want to set the tempo. The first series of any game sets the tempo, and that’s not the tempo I wanted to set last night.”
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
Coach Steve Spurrier wasn’t overwhelmed with quarterback Connor Shaw’s performance immediately after Wednesday’s scrimmage, but felt better after watching film of the practice.
“It was probably one of his best scrimmages,” Spurrier said. “He’s a good quarterback; he’s a very good quarterback. Hopefully, he can take us a long way this year.”
Shaw, a junior, is 8-1 as a starter. He was 9-for-12 for 98 yards and one touchdown Wednesday.
STILL ON TRACK
Junior running back Marcus Lattimore did not speak to the media following Thursday’s practice, but Elliott thinks Lattimore is progressing well.
“He wears a brace is the only way I know he’s had a knee injury,” Elliott said. “That’s one of the things I have always wondered. They say, ‘I have fixed you better than new. That knee is stronger than ever, but, by the way, wear this brace.’ I would think it’s entirely up to him (if he wears the brace during the season).”
Cornerback Ahmad Christian, tight end Kelvin Rainey and linebacker Kaiwan Lewis all sat out Thursday due to concussions. Rainey, who has been out the longest, could return “in a day or two,” Spurrier said. Rainey and Lewis were expected to redshirt this season even before their injuries.
Seeing Shaw on film may have buoyed Spurrier’s spirits, but the effort level of some of his players during Wednesday’s scrimmage cancelled out most of that positive feeling.
“Had a few too many loafs last night, mostly some young guys,” he said. “They have been told we don’t loaf here at South Carolina. We didn’t get to be No. 7 or 9 or whatever in the country in preseason by having a bunch of loafers on our team., they will get the message. If not, we will let them transfer and play for somebody else.”