While it is not as beat up as some of its Eastern Division rivals, South Carolina still will have some players limping into Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium on Saturday.
Starting wide receiver Bruce Ellington (foot) and starting safety Chaz Elder (concussion) were added to the injury list by Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier on Tuesday and are questionable this weekend, as is center Cody Waldrop (ankle). Starting guard Ronald Patrick (ankle) is doubtful, and linebacker Skai Moore (concussion) is probable, Spurrier said.
Ellington was in a walking boot and did not practice Tuesday due to what Spurrier called a “strained foot” suffered in the first half of a 52-7 win over Arkansas. Ellington is the Gamecocks’ leading receiver with 21 catches for 332 yards.
“We’ll wait and see how Bruce can run,” Spurrier said. “He may be out this week.”
Moore and Elder also were in yellow jerseys watching practice. The freshmen defenders will have to wait to pass the team’s concussion testing before they can return to the field. Being cleared by Saturday probably won’t help the youngsters if they can’t practice at least some this week.
“Everyone needs to practice but especially when you are a young player who hasn’t played many plays, you need as much practice time as you can get,” secondary coach Grady Brown said. Elder “definitely needs to be able to practice [Wednesday] to be able to play this weekend.”
Elder, who was injured covering a kickoff and returned to the field briefly before team doctors diagnosed the concussion, believes he will be able to play, he said after Tuesday’s practice. Moore, who was injured on the final play of the Arkansas game, was less certain but hopeful.
“I am feeling better, taking it day by day and waiting for the trainers to get me cleared,” he said. “I am not really sure yet, just waiting on them to let me know.”
Patrick was on crutches and wearing a walking boot during Tuesday’s practice.
Also injured and not practicing were Cody Waldrop (ankle), Brandon Wilds (elbow), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Devin Washington (concussion).
Questions up front
South Carolina hasn’t had to think much recently about how it might replace Patrick in the lineup. The senior, who was injured in the fourth quarter against Arkansas and is wearing a walking boot, has started 19 straight on the right side of the Gamecocks offensive line.
If he can’t go this week, the Gamecocks have a number of options, Spurrier said.
True freshman Na’Ty Rodgers is listed as Patrick’s top backup, and redshirt freshman Brock Stadnik is the backup at left guard. Either could take over for Patrick, Spurrier said. Waldrop also is an option if he’s healthy enough to play. The Gamecocks also might start Cody Gibson at tackle and move Brandon Shell or Corey Robinson inside to guard until Patrick can return, Spurrier said.
Rodgers “is going to be a good player,” Spurrier said. “We don’t’ know if he’s ready to be a good player yet. He’s another true freshman who I think is really going to play well before he’s finished playing here.”
Sophomore wide receiver Shaq Roland, who had eight catches for 161 yards in South Carolina’s first three games, will return this week from a three-game suspension. Roland, a starter when he was suspended, is listed on the third team on this week’s depth chart.
“He’s not going to start,” Spurrier said. “But Shaq will be out getting some passes thrown at him. He certainly should.”
Damiere Byrd has had 12 catches for 229 yards and two touchdowns playing in Roland’s absence.
Where’s the love?
South Carolina’s No. 9 ranking in the coaches poll caught Spurrier’s attention even if it didn’t get much attention anywhere else.
“I tell you something that was sort of interesting this week, a bunch of you media people, we’re back in the top 10 in the coaches poll, and I don’t think any of ya’ll have written about that,” Spurrier said with a smile.
The State, like most media outlets and the school’s official records, uses the Associated Press poll, in which the Gamecocks are ranked No. 11. Spurrier added he liked the idea that South Carolina as a top 10 team is “no big deal.”
“Quietly, we jumped back in there, I thought was kind of neat,” he said.
South Carolina has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 24 weeks in its history.
“It really means nothing right now,” quarterback Connor Shaw said. “That’ll take care of itself. We just have to take care of ourselves.”
Practice nuggets from Tuesday night
- Defensive line coach Deke Adams said a review of the game film showed that Arkansas ran four plays at Jadeveon Clowney and that the star defensive end was double- and triple-teamed the entire day. Clowney finished with two tackles.
"He's playing hard every week," Adams said. "If he just keeps playing the stats will come to him. ... He plays hard every time he gets out there. Things have been said throughout the year about him. You just turn the film on and you see how hard he plays."
- Asked whether he thought Chaz Sutton (15 tackles, two sacks) was taking advantage of the attention Clowney has received, Adams said, "He knows he hasn't made the plays he's needed to make on a consistent basis. Arkansas came out and did some of the things Central Florida did, putting both backs and chipping both sides on those guys. He knows when he gets one-on-one situations, he's got to capitalize. That's the only way it opens things up for all of us. I challenge him about it every day."
- Secondary coach Grady Brown praised Victor Hampton's interception but wouldn't single him out with an explanation of why Hampton was benched, nothing that others didn't start as well.
"No one was performing to their highest standard," Brown said. "When players are not performing to their highest standard, you have to do the best you can to catch their attention. The guys did a good job of responding."
Brown did not say who would start at the four defensive back spots this week, but did say: "It will likely be the guys that played this past game, but we have injuries. You have two more days of practice. I can assure you that whomever practices the best this week and also the guys that played well, it will be a combination of the two. They'll be the one that start the game. It's not always about who starts. Sometimes it's about who finishes the game."
“I really believe he’s going to have a chance to play some pro football. All those pro teams hoping to have running quarterbacks, you can see the importance. What did we have last week, third and 17? And he bounced out the pocket and had an 18-yard run to keep the drive alive and so forth. Quarterbacks that can do that are really special and important nowadays.” – Spurrier on Shaw
- Dwayne McLemore contributed to this report