How Eric Wolford leans on his senior leaders
When South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp was trying to describe the value of Alan Knott this season, Muschamp talked about “moving parts.”
“There’s a lot of moving parts, and we rely a lot on him as far as making the calls in the run game and the pass game,” Muschamp said. “The guy has done a fantastic job.”
Muschamp was referring to movement by the defense, which Knott is charged with diagnosing and adjusting to, but he could just as easily been talking about movement on Knott’s side of the ball. The senior center is the Gamecocks’ only offensive lineman who has played the same position in every game this season.
Three players who started alongside him in the first game – Zack Bailey, Cory Helms and Malik Young – have missed significant time because of injuries. Donell Stanley has moved from Knott’s left shoulder to his right shoulder.
The only constant has been Knott, a 6-foot-4, 290-pounder from Tyrone, Ga. Knott was named South Carolina’s offensive lineman of the game in last week’s 15-9 win against Tennessee, but his value has extended across all seven games. The Gamecocks (5-2 overall, 3-2 SEC) have an open date this Saturday before returning to play Vanderbilt at 4 p.m. Oct. 28 in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“He’s been outstanding,” Muschamp said. “He’s been very good at holding things together as far as communication.”
Bailey, Helms and Young have been replaced at varying times by freshman Sadarius Hutcherson and lightly used junior Blake Camper in two different spots, putting an even greater burden on Knott to help pull those players along.
“Keep moving forward, that’s all we can do,” he said. “We stay with our same assignments and expect those guys to step up and do their thing. So far, they have. I’ll help anybody that has a question or might have a slight slip up.”
Bailey, Helms and Young are expected to return against the Commodores.
“Alan is a senior, and you can tell Alan wants this bad, and I want it for him,” Stanley said. “We’re going to do whatever it takes.”
Knott has started 36 games for South Carolina, more than any current Gamecock.
“Alan has changed a whole lot since last season,” Stanley said. “He’s pretty much been (offensive line coach Eric Wolford) when coach Wolf is not there. We have late-night meetings, Alan is running film. He’s getting guys in the weight room, getting guys in the cold tub to take care of their bodies. You can tell that guy wants it, so I want it for him, too.”