Matulis takes advantage of second chance

One of the Gamecocks biggest struggles this year has been the performance of the offensive line, but freshman Mike Matulis at right tackle wins the game ball against Florida.

Mike Matulis was a three-star recruit coming out of Park Vista High School in Lake Worth, Florida. Many believed would be a redshirt this season. He said he wasn't that surprised when head coach Steve Spurrier said he might start against Florida.

"He mentioned it before," said Matulis. "I think he felt that I did good during practice."

Matulis got his first chance to start earlier this season at left tackle when Kyle Nunn couldn't go against Auburn. But was pulled early in the game as Rokevious Watkins moved to the left side and Cody Gibson was inserted at right tackle.

But after Matulis didn't play a meaningful snap in the next four games, Spurrier said he wanted to change some things up at right tackle giving Matulis his second chance.

"He hadn't played four or five weeks and I sort of suggested to Coach Elliot maybe we need to let him play right tackle because we struggled there," said Spurrier.

Matulis said he may have gotten a chance to play, but there is a lot he needs to improve on because he is a freshman.

"My pass protection definitely," said Matulis about things he needs to improve on from last week's game. "I feel like my run blocking was there. I've just got to get a little more aggressive."

Spurrier agrees that Matulis needs to work on some stuff and said he gave him the game ball for a different reason.

"He's a Florida kid from Florida," said Spurrier. "That's basically the reason he got one. He played decent; not great, but decent."

Matulis said offensive lineman coach Shawn Elliot has really been helping him out in practice to get where he needs to be.

"I'm going against Clowney and Melvin (Ingram)," said Matulis. "Coach Elliot will definitely take a little extra time during 101s to show me to stay low during my pass sets you know really punch my hands out.

Spurrier said the whole team is not doing as well as he'd like, even if they are winning games.

"We were talking in the staff room the other day that last year's team probably statistically was better than this year team, yet this year's team has won one more game at this point that last year's," said Spurrier.

Matulis said he knows he still has a lot to work on with football, but he relies on his brother, a former college pitcher, to give him good advice on how to be a college athlete too.

"He helped me out a lot mentally," said Matulis. "You know he talks to me when it gets rough; you know missing home and stuff."

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