The Daily Gamecock

Freshmen could play big role in all-SEC football season

The SEC has already released an all-conference 10-game schedule set to begin later this month. The Gamecocks lost key players such as wide receiver Bryan Edwards and defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw to graduation, and another to injury.

One of the team's most highly anticipated newcomers this season was incoming freshman running back MarShawn Lloyd, who tore his left ACL in a practice earlier this offseason, according to head coach Will Muschamp in an interview with ESPN.

Following the departure of former running back Rico Dowdle to the NFL draft, Lloyd would have been the team's No. 1 back as a highly touted four-star recruit.

Despite this offseason stumble for the Gamecocks' offense, there are still plenty of players in this year’s recruiting class to contribute on the field.

Muschamp said in a press release that he wants some of these contributions to come via special teams, which have been a point of emphasis in fall practice.

“It’s one-third of the game, so that’s why we strategically put some of the special teams late in practice to make sure our guys understand the importance of taking advantage of the vertical field position of the games," Muschamp said in the release.

Freshmen that could have an immediate impact in this are punter Kai Kroeger and placekicker Mitch Jeter.

"Kai (Kroeger) has punted really well," Muschamp told Gamecocks Online following practice last week. "He's a really good athlete. I've been pleased with that. Mitch Jeter has really kicked the ball well for us when Parker (White) has had some class."

Another freshman who has been impressive since his first time on the practice field, according to Muschamp and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, is quarterback Luke Doty, a four-star recruit from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“Coach Bobo and I laughed at about his first day of practice at Georgia. I think he fumbled six snaps. Luke didn’t fumble any," Muschamp told The State. "He’s very intelligent. He reacts well in the pocket."

Muschamp said he was pleased with the quarterback's athleticism.

“Luke has been accurate. I think two days ago he was 11-of-11, which was awesome. He hit every target,” Bobo said after a spring practice in March.

Doty has also seen some time at other positions in practices and scrimmages this summer.

“Luke’s been great and shown flashes at all three positions — special teams, receiver and at quarterback,” Bobo said at a press conference Friday. "I think he has a future at quarterback at South Carolina and this league."

Defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson also told reporters Friday about this upcoming season. He said the team needed positive outputs from players such as freshman defensive lineman Alex Huntley, as backups could prove vital in this odd season.

“Everyone have to be ready. No one can be assuming that they’re not going to be playing 'cause we can hear something on a Friday, something on a Wednesday, that a guy's not up. So, it’s that mentality,” Robinson said.

Robinson told reporters it was likely freshman Jordan Burch would see key snaps as a backup as well. 

"He has tremendous pass rush. He can drop when we need him to drop, and we need someone that can get to the quarterback. We're going to put it on him to do it," Robinson said at a press conference in March.

Michael Sauls contributed to the reporting of this article.


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