The Daily Gamecock

Elliot Fry looking forward to opportunity against UNC

Shaw confident USC can keep up with Tar Heel offense

South Carolina’s matchup with North Carolina is two days away and the team is starting to come together, head coach Steve Spurrier said.

It was walk-on true freshman kicker Elliot Fry’s first time speaking to the media. Spurrier said Fry was leading the placekicking competition during Sunday’s press conference, and he has continued to work with the first team in practice.

Fry said practice has helped prepare him for the game and that the coaching staff does a good job in creating pressure situations in practice. He added that it is his job to handle it.

Fry beat out sophomore Landon Ard and redshirt freshman Nick St. Germain in camp to gain control of the position after flying under the radar this summer.

Fry was offered a scholarship at Louisiana Tech, but turned it down to try and make the South Carolina team.

“I mean, it’s SEC football,” he said. “I’d rather take this chance and try to get on scholarship here.”

Spurrier and special teams coordinator Joe Robinson have been trying to simulate crowd noise for Fry to get ready for the Tar Heels.

“Obviously you can’t get 80,000 fans out here,” Fry said. “There’s enough pressure starting and having Joe yell at you on the field, so I feel ready.”

Sophomore Mike Davis spoke with reporters as well and said he would not have nerves before Thursday’s game. He hinted that the crowd might see him and fellow running back sophomore Brandon Wilds line up in the backfield together against the Tar Heels.

Davis said he thinks he won the starting job by proving himself to be a complete back in the preseason scrimmages.

“I think that’s where I was getting their trust,” Davis said. “The thing I learned most in the offseason was pass blocking. As far as running, I knew that was gonna come easy.”

Senior quarterback Connor Shaw said he is anxious to get the game started.

“We’re all excited,” he said. “It’s about time we face someone else. We had a pretty good camp. We’ve got two more days to prepare for them. We’ll be ready.”

Shaw said he has total confidence in the defense’s ability to match UNC’s offensive speed.

“Remember now, our defense has played up-tempo teams,” Shaw said. “Clemson was up-tempo and you saw what happened there. Our defensive guys are prepared for it and I think our guys can match theirs.”

He noted the injuries to junior wide receiver Bruce Ellington and junior tight end Rory Anderson and said it might hurt the Gamecocks a little if they cannot play. Both players are dealing with hamstring issues. However, Shaw added that their replacements will be ready to step in and contribute.

Ellington practiced in full pads two days ago, but said he tweaked the hamstring again and sat out yesterday. He said it is boring sitting on the sideline, but he has used the time to observe the game fully and help out the other receivers.

There’s a chance the coaching staff may hold him out with a matchup against Georgia next week, but Ellington said his focus is solely on North Carolina.

The junior said he wants to be out at practice, but he has to play it by ear. With his status in doubt, he thinks the other receivers will be able to step up.

“It’s day by day and hopefully I’ll be out there soon,” Ellington said. “I think they’re going to do real well. The guys have been preparing for this and are ready for it.”

One of the receivers Ellington was excited about is true freshman Pharoh Cooper. Cooper recently switched his position from defensive back to receiver and said the transition has been going well. Ellington said Cooper’s been going up and making some impressive plays.

Cooper’s success in the past weeks has taken him to No. 2 on the depth chart behind junior starter Nick Jones in the slot position. The freshman will also be on the kickoff unit and is supposed to be one of the last defenders containing the ball. Cooper is excited, but does not seem complacent with his early chances of getting on the field.

“I stay humble,” he said. “You know that No. 2 spot can go tomorrow, so I just need to keep working hard and do my job.”

Overall, the team is just ready to get out and play some football.

“The players are giddy, the fans are giddy, the community is, too,” Shaw said. “It’s going to be great.”


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