Posted: 9:47 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013
By Connor Tapp
Earlier this week, South Carolina released it's first official depth chart of the 2013 season. Click here to watch Steve Spurrier's Sunday press conference, in which he fields questions about, among other things, some of the more surprising elements of this two-deep.
|Position||First Team||Second Team||Third Team|
|X Wide Receiver||Shaq Roland||Shamier Jeffery||K.J. Brent|
|Z Wide Receiver||Damiere Byrd||Bruce Ellington||Jody Fuller|
|B Wide Receiver||Nick Jones||Pharoh Cooper||Kwinton Smith|
|Left Tackle||Corey Robinson||Mason Zandi|
|Left Guard||A.J. Cann||Brock Stadnik||Bryce King|
|Center||Cody Waldrop||Clayton Stadnik||Alan Knott|
|Right Guard||Ronald Patrick||Will Sport||D.J. Park|
|Right Tackle||Brandon Shell||J.P. Vonashek||Na'Ty Rodgers|
|Tight End||Jerrell Adams||Drew Owens|
|Quarterback||Connor Shaw||Dylan Thompson||Brendan Nosovitch|
|Fullback||Connor McLaurin||Jordan Diaz|
|Tailback||Mike Davis||Brandon WIlds||Shon Carson|
With Bruce Ellington (hamstring) listed as a backup and Busta Anderson (hamstring) not even listed on the two-deep, South Carolina's starters will have contributed to just 17% of last year's total catches. If Ellington's hamstring isn't ready to go by 6 PM tomorrow night, Damiere Byrd's 14 catches in 2012 will be the most of any Gamecock receiver on the field. USC has a proven backup at tight end in Jerrell Adams, who probably even has a higher ultimate ceiling than Anderson, but Bruce Ellington's presence in this WR corps is vital. The Gamecocks can still win even if Bruce isn't available, but it will put that much more pressure on a young group that is long on upside but short on results.
When Pharoh Cooper was being recruited as a multi-position prospect out of Havelock, NC, the buzz was that he'd have a chance to come in early and make an impact as a punt returner, but I don't think anyone thought that Pharoh would be entering the North Carolina game just one play away from lining up as the starting slot receiver for the Gamecocks, especially after he opened fall camp working with the safeties. But apparently Steve Spurrier so much liked what he saw out of Pharoh's reps in the punt return game that he petitioned for Cooper's transition to the offensive side of the ball. What the Head Ball Coach wants, the Head Ball Coach gets, and Cooper says that he'd rather be playing receiver anyway.
If you press people like Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban about who's listed second on a depth chart, it becomes clear pretty quickly that depth charts are a media-driven construct that coaches would just as soon not deal with whatsoever. But it's hard not to notice that Bryce King, D.J. Park, Alan Knott, and J.P. Vonashek - all true freshmen - are listed as backups on the pre-UNC edition of the depth chart. The ability to redshirt true freshman offensive linemen is instrumental for cultivating quality, SEC-caliber depth, so seeing four true freshmen listed on the two deep is bound to raise some eyebrows.
Naturally, the plan is for the starting five to go the distance, but, once the game starts, injury and/or poor performance could force Shawn Elliott's hand to burn a redshirt or two. But, considering that the offensive line is perhaps this team's most veteran unit, this shouldn't be too much of a concern.
|Position||First Team||Second Team||Third Team|
|Weakside Defensive End||Chaz Sutton||Mason Harris||Gerald Dixon|
|Defensive Tackle||J.T. Surratt||Gerald Dixon, Jr.||Deon Green|
|Defensive Tackle||Kelcy Quarles||Phillip Dukes|
|Strongside Defensive End||Jadeveon Clowney||Darius English|
|Middle Linebacker||Kaiwan Lewis||T.J. Holloman||Jonathan Walton|
|Weakside Linebacker||Marcquis Roberts||Skai Moore||Larenz Bryant|
|SPUR||Sharrod Golightly||Jordan Diggs||Chris Moody|
|Field Cornerback||Victor Hampton||Ahmad Christian|
|Boundary Safety||Kadetrix Marcus||T.J. Gurley|
|Free Safety||Brison Williams||Chaz Elder|
|Boundary Cornerback||Jimmy Legree||Jamari Smith||Rico McWilliams|
The only real surprise in the linebacking corps is that once-projected WLB starter Cedrick Cooper is not even listed as a reserve. Cooper's hyperextended elbow has kept him out much longer than the 10 days to 2 weeks that he was initially expected to miss. Among the true freshmen in the mix, Skai Moore stands the best chance to see the field as a true freshman, Linebackers coach Kirk Botkin has praised Moore throughout fall camp for his ability to pick up the complexities of the Gamecocks' defense at a much faster rate than most true freshmen.
Not unlike Pharoh Cooper, Jamari Smith switched positions in the middle of fall camp, and it comes as something of a surprise to see him passing over Rico McWilliams as the backup to Jimmy Legree.
|Position||First Team||Second Team|
|Kickoff Specialist||Landon Ard OR||Elliott Fry|
|Placekicker||Elliott Fry OR||Landon Ard|
|Punter||Tyler Hull||Patrick Fish|
|Kickoff Returner||Victor Hampton||Bruce Ellington|
|Punt Returner||Victor Hampton||Shon Carson|
|Longsnapper||Ryland Culbertson||Drew Williams|
|Holder||Patrick Fish||Brendan Nosovitch|
Steve Spurrier is known for many things. One of those things is his aversion to kicking field goals, which should only be intensified by the fact that he will have true freshman Elliott Fry attempting field goals and PATs on Thursday night. Fry's emergence comes as a surprise to most of us at Garnet And Black Attack, as evidenced by how heavily we threw our editorial weight behind Landon Ard. Despite Spurrier's apparent confidence in the youngster Fry, Gamecock fans figure to be more nervous than usual should the season opener end up being decided by a last-minute field goal.
Well, I guess we're 0/2 when it comes to taking chances on kicking game specialists.