The ninth-ranked University of South Carolina football team worked out Wednesday afternoon on another humid day in Columbia. The Gamecocks (1-0, 1-0 SEC) are continuing their preparations for Saturday’s 12:21 p.m. non-conference contest with East Carolina (1-0, 0-0 C-USA). Tickets priced at $40 each still remain for the Gamecocks’ home opener.
The Gamecocks’ offensive line is one that figures to improve as the season progresses. It features a redshirt freshman at left tackle in Brandon Shell, three sophomores in left guard A.J. Cann and tackles Mike Matulis and Cody Gibson, and a junior right guard in Ronald Patrick, who was making his first career start. Senior center T.J. Johnson, a Rimington Award candidate, anchors the line. He has started every game over the past four seasons.
“You are going to go through some growing pains with guys that haven’t stepped out on the field before,” noted offensive line coach Shawn Elliott, “and I think that’s what happened the other night. They’re going to continue to get better. We’ve got some young guys up front, but I can tell you they’re going to get better, better and better. “
Elliott said that Shell, “Came out of the game the other night because he needed to come out of the game the other night. That was a decision Coach (Spurrier) and I made, so we pulled him,” continued Elliott. “He gave up a sack there in the third quarter that I wasn’t pleased about it. So we gave somebody else a chance.”
Gibson was that guy who was given a chance. “I think I made the statement earlier that I expected big things from Cody Gibson,” noted Elliott. “When he stepped in there, he had an opportunity to go play and win an SEC ballgame in a tough environment on a national stage, I thought he did exceptionally well. I was very pleased to see what he did.”
Coach Elliott was noncommittal on who would make the start on Saturday. “I think (the offensive line) is going to shape up (this week) just like it happened (last week),” said Elliott. “I think we’re going to play guys that want to go out there and play, and if they are not out there playing at the level we expect we’re going to implement another guy.”
In other news, junior quarterback Connor Shaw returned to practice on Wednesday wearing his regular garnet practice jersey. It was his first practice since suffering a bruise to his right throwing shoulder in the win at Vanderbilt. Running back Brandon Wilds, who missed the opener with a sprained ankle, did some running, but did not practice.
The Gamecocks will return to the practice fields again on Thursday afternoon.