Shawn Elliott saw no fear in Zack Bailey’s eyes, despite asking him to play a position he’d never played in his life, on the road in one of the loudest stadiums in the country.
As he sees it, that was the biggest test — and Bailey passed.
“He never thought in a million years he’d be playing center and starting against Central Florida, so it’s a good time,” Elliott said.
Elliott’s system is to make sure all of his linemen can play every position. Bailey might have been surprised to snap a few balls in the preseason as a “just in case” option, but he dutifully gave it the ol’ college try.
“I think he rolled it back there, looks like probably a golf shot of mine,” Elliott said of Bailey’s first attempt. “When you bring in athletes, you got to make them train at every position. Here it is, it’s panning out.”
Slight chance of an Orthquake
Lorenzo Nunez will start, but Perry Orth will play Saturday. Orth confirmed it on Wednesday.
“I’m going to get out there,” Orth said. “I’m still going to go and prepare like I’m going to start.”
Orth said there was no set series for him to go in, but he will play.
“Whenever coach (G.A.) Mangus and coach (Steve) Spurrier decide to throw me in there is when I’ll get my chance, and hopefully I’ll be ready to go,” he said.
Nunez will be the first freshman quarterback to start for Spurrier at USC, and the second in his career (Jesse Palmer, Florida vs. Auburn, 1997). He’s the first true freshman to start for the Gamecocks since 1999 when Mikal Goodman did it.
Goodman was one of six quarterbacks to play in Lou Holtz’s first year at USC. He, Phil Petty and Kevin Sides started the games while Kyle Crabb, Josh Rogers and converted receiver Carlos Spikes played during an 0-11 season.
The last true freshman to start and win a game at USC was Steve Taneyhill in 1992.
The record books
UCF was Spurrier’s first opponent at USC in 2005, and also came to Williams-Brice Stadium in 1996 and 1997. The Knights’ quarterback those seasons was Daunte Culpepper, who went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL.
He was replaced as UCF quarterback by Vic Penn, who began his career at USC.
UCF radio color man Charlie Taaffe also has experience coaching in, and pulling an upset in, Williams-Brice. He was head coach at The Citadel when the Bulldogs claimed a 38-35 win in 1990.
That was quick
Jamari Smith has moved back to cornerback after a brief career at wide receiver. He will wear No. 22.
Red cross report
Alan Knott’s injury isn’t as serious as first thought. The hope is he will be able to practice next week. Brandon Wilds is questionable for Saturday. Shon Carson has been running with the ones, David Williams is his backup and Rod Talley is third string.
Others who were injured or wore yellow jerseys were: CB Chris Lammons (knee), CB Chaz Elder (ribs), TE Connor Redmond (back), QB Gage Pucci (knee), SS Antoine Wilder (right knee sprain) and C Cody Waldrop (ankle). QB Connor Mitch (shoulder) is out 3-5 weeks. WR Shaq Davidson (knee) and WR Jerad Washington (left leg) are out for the season.
Gamecocks vs. Knights
Who: USC (1-2) vs. UCF (0-3)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
Line: USC by 14