The Daily Gamecock

With limited number of seniors, younger players take leadership roles on football team

	<p>Coach Steve Spurrier says junior players will make up for the absence of seniors on the Gamecocks’ roster.</p>
Coach Steve Spurrier says junior players will make up for the absence of seniors on the Gamecocks’ roster.

Gamecocks have only 5 seniors on roster

With only five seniors on South Carolina’s roster, coach Steve Spurrier has been forced to broaden his search for leadership on the team, but he said after Thursday’s practice that he doesn’t think the lack of veterans will hurt his team come gameday.

“We’ve got enough older guys,” Spurrier said, “and the junior guys are like seniors anyway these days.”

Spurrier blames the small senior class on several factors, including last year’s large crop of fifth-year seniors and some early departures to the NFL.

This season’s group of Gamecock seniors is dwarfed by the 29 players that were honored during last year’s senior day against Wofford, one of the largest numbers in recent memory.

Senior guard Ronald Patrick has embraced looking to younger players to act as team leaders.

“We have a lot of players — underclassmen, juniors — that can fill the role,” Patrick said. “It’s not really about the class. It’s just coming out here and working hard.”

Patrick said that as seniors, he and his classmates have had meetings to discuss their goals for the season and plans on how to approach each week of practice.

To make up for the scarcity of seniors to attend, the meetings have been attended by junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, junior safety Brison Williams, and redshirt junior cornerback
Victor Hampton, all of whom have occupied leadership roles throughout the preseason.

The Gamecocks will get today off before heading back to the practice field Saturday to continue game-week preparation for the Tar Heels.

Despite an irregular week to start the season, playing on a Thursday as opposed to a Saturday, Spurrier will try to make the days leading up to the game feel as normal as possible for his squad.

“We hope to peak next Thursday night,” Spurrier said.

Running backs

While Mike Davis has been named the starting running back for the opener, the sophomore said he has not been told how playing time will be split between him and sophomore Brandon Wilds.

“That’s all up to the coaches,” Davis said. “I don’t know how the carries are going to go; I’m just hoping for the best.”

Despite splitting touches with Kenny Miles to close out the 2012 season after Marcus Lattimore was injured, Davis said his nerves increased after he was named the starter.

“I can’t wait,” Davis said. “I still have butterflies now.”

Kickers

With the departure of kicker Adam Yates, the position has been up for grabs throughout the preseason. Spurrier has not yet named a starter but said he is close to a decision and hopes to notify the position battle’s winner with plenty of time to prepare for UNC.

“The guy who’s kicking in the front of the line right now is [freshman] Elliot Fry,” Spurrier said.
“He’s been kicking a little bit better than the other guys.”

While Fry has impressed on extra points and field goals, Spurrier said he may implement a 2-kicker system, allowing another Gamecock to take kick-offs.


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