The Gamecocks are losing bodies on the field. During Tuesday night’s practice, defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (hamstring), linebacker Jonathan Walton (concussion), defensive end Mason Harris (knee) and offensive lineman Cody Waldrop (knee) all lined the sideline with injuries.
Brandon Wilds should be back in the picture for the Gamecocks this weekend and defensive end David Johnson. However, Busta Anderson will not be so lucky.
After an MRI look, the tight end tore his tricep and could be out as long as three weeks.
”We’ve got to bring our ‘A-game’,” said the HBC, “and see if we can get a break or two and see what happens at Auburn on Saturday night.”
One of the biggest problems South Carolina has faced is not playing all four quarters. Giving up two Southeastern Conference losses in a row to allowing unanswered points in the second half, linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said Auburn is going to come on strong.
“Our guys have to be disciplined and concentrate on where their eyes are supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing, play after play after play,” said Botkin. “It’s going to be a four-quarter ballgame. (Auburn) is going to be physical and they’re going to try to wear you down with the up-tempo offense. We can’t give up the big play, give them anything cheap, keep everything in front of us, play great redzone defense, make them kick field goals when they’re down there.”
Defensive backs coach Grady Brown notes the key to stopping the Tigers will be getting the defense to slow down the high-power attack and Auburn’s excellent ability to run the ball.
“They can throw it really well,” noted Brown. “Nick Marshall is a really good quarterback. He throws the ball really well. They have at least two of the top receivers that we’ll see between No. 1 and No. 18. It’s a challenge, but you have to try to stop the run and make teams one-dimensional. By the same token, they might be good enough to beat you if they are one-dimensional,” said Brown. “We’ve got to go out, execute our assignments, execute the calls, play fast, try to create turnovers and just play our best game on Saturday.”
As of Wednesday, Surratt was able to get in on some running and linebacker Jonathan Walton participated in no-contact drills. Plus, defensive end Mason Harris returned to practice.
On the offensive side of things, Mike Matulis is back on the field and making progress.
“Practice has been good for (Mike) this week,” stated offensive line coach Shawn Elliott. “Last week he was kind of skittish so to speak, but he’s looked really good this week. It’s good for our morale (to have Matulis practicing),” continued Elliott. “He kind of picks up everybody’s spirits. He has fun at practice. It’s good to have him back. He enjoys football and we enjoy having him.”
And, Matulis is glad to be back.
“I haven’t played in over two years. I was just so happy to be out there again, said Matulis of his opportunity against Furman. “I’m close to (100 percent). I’m still recovering a little bit. It’s not a full 100 percent. I’d say I’m at 95 percent. I’ve only been out there for four practices, so it’s coming along. I feel like I’m progressing well.”
South Carolina will see the practice fields once again on Thursday afternoon.