Cory Boyd: Leadership Showing Through
Boyd came in at the same time as the much more heralded Demetris Summers, and served as his backup for his first two years at USC. It appeared Boyd would finally get his chance when Summers was dismissed from the team following their sophomore season. However, Boyd threw that chance away when he got suspended for the season. Boyd nearly left Carolina that year, but he stayed, and now two years later he has become not only one of the focal points of the offense, but one of the leaders on the team.
That leadership came into play in unexpected ways over the past week. Three players, including starting quarterback Blake Mitchell, were suspended for the season opener, and another, Emanuel Cook, spent the night in jail and the a hospital over the course of a single weekend. Cook was initially suspended from school, but has since been reinstated. While keenly aware of both situations, Boyd has made a point to try to keep the team focused throughout.
"This program has always had its ups and its downs," he said, probably not considering just how apt that analysis has always been for Carolina. "We definitely have to stay away from [trouble]. We are still going to encourage our players to do good and let them know that we are going to be by their side, but at the same time, we have a much bigger picture out there that we have to plan for."
Sometimes it is hard to stay focused, but the goal of an SEC Championship and the unity of the team kept popping up as Boyd explained how the team avoids distractions. Boyd said he was initially in disbelief when he heard that Cook had been arrested. Once he realized what was going on, Boyd, with some experience behind him, spoke to Cook.
"I spoke to him," Boyd said, "and told him, ‘Keep your head,' and ‘things happen for a reason.' This is probably a test of your manhood [to] see how you're going to get over this hump."
Aside from that, Boyd said the players cannot worry too much about Cook's situation, a circumstance any player could find himself in.
"We're just focused on the personnel of ULL and trying to figure out what tendencies they have," Boyd said. "We'll probably have some meetings here or there to talk about certain situations dealing with the team, and how we need to come together as a team and be as one."
Senior running back Cory Boyd has become a leader both on and off the football field for the Gamecocks.
While Cook will be out another couple of weeks as he recovers from his appendicitis, Mitchell will be eligible to return for the second game at Georgia. Boyd steadfastly refused to talk about what might happen in the second game, saying, "We can't talk about going into Week 2; we haven't gotten to Week 1 yet." However, he did talk about the impact Mitchell's suspension might have on the first game.
"It was kind of downing that Blake wasn't going to be out there, but it's only one game, luckily," Boyd said. "We're looking forward to seeing some of the young quarterbacks [Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher] go out there and try to showcase their talents. We believe that we have a good stable of quarterbacks. We know what we can do with the quarterbacks. Coach Spurrier is a genius in dealing with the quarterbacks. Hopefully when they get out there they can show the nation that they can compete."
He later said that he is not concerned that Mitchell missing the first game would have a long term effect on the offense.
"All the quarterbacks are going to be ready [for future games]," Boyd said. "Coach Spurrier is going to make sure they are ready. That's one thing we are confident about. We're just going to take it one game at a time; we've got to worry about ULL right now. When Georgia comes, we'll just have to put something together for them."
Boyd is not concerned about trying to light up the scoreboard with 50+ points on Saturday, saying that is a bad goal for an offense to have. He knows the Gamecocks have a strong defense, so the offense just has to score more points than the other team, and the defense can hold them in check.
"Games can be won 3-0," he said, "so as long as we get out there and execute the best way we can, we'll let the scoreboard speak for itself at the end of the game. At the same time, we're looking forward to trying to go out there and put some numbers up. We just have to try to be the best offense we can. We proved [last year] that if you go out there and have the confidence and swagger of a good offensive team, anything is possible. You can't take anybody lightly nowadays. If we get our rhythm, we can have an explosive team and explosive offense."
The biggest question mark on offense is the offensive line, but Boyd is not worried. He speaks highly of the unit, while acknowledging that there is some uncertainty.
"I'm definitely confident in the offensive line," he said. "They might be young and inexperienced, but at the same time, they've got the heart of a lion. We had a long [practice] and hopefully the heat and the contact that we have gone through during the summer will pay off. They get used to it as the days go along. Once we get out there, hopefully we will be able to show that we have a good offensive line."
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