COLUMBIA, S.C. – A.J. Turner’s cameo in the South Carolina film-review roast lasted just one play.
Unfortunately, for the redshirt freshman running back, it was on the opening kickoff of Thursday night’s 13-10 win against Vanderbilt.
Oh my god, South Carolina. This was nearly ruled a safety pic.twitter.com/QRq2ZCHWIn
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 2, 2016
“My off returner told me to stay and I had already taken a step out, so I just tried to hover my knee over the thing and see what I could get,” Turner said. “Luckily, we got the ball on the (25).”
Turner’s caught all sorts of grief from his teammates since Thursday night’s gaffe.
“I took it from my coaches, too. Every day since then they’ve been joking around with me,” he said. “Coach (Will) Muschamp was (saying), ‘A.J., what were you doing?’ A what-were-you-thinking kind of thing.
“So I know next time what to do. I’ve been coached up on it.”
The rest of the evening went pretty well for Turner. He finished with 13 carries for 70 yards and 3 receptions for 27 yards.
“He always runs hard,” said Blake Camper, who subbed in at right tackle when RG Donell Stanley exited the game with an ankle injury. “That’s really one thing that’s impressed us. He’ll run straight through a block and not stop.
“He really will churn his feet and get those extra yards that we really need. That really showed on that long run that we had that brought us down (to) the (8-yard line), to get the touchdown on the next play.”
Apparently, tough running gets offensive linemen fired up.
“It really is like all the hard work we put in during the game, to see him step up and play to a level that he did — I shouldn’t say it makes it all worth it, but it really does,” Camper said. “It makes it all worth it, for what we’re doing. Because we know, at the end of the day, we’ve got his back and he’s got ours.”
Looking back, Turner was pleased with his performance.
“I always have high expectations for myself, but I didn’t plan, saying I want a 100-yard game. I just play. That’s me,” he said. “Everybody asks me, ‘How many touchdowns do you think you’re going to get? What do you think your stats are going to be?’ I always tell them that I never predict. I just play. That’s what I went out there and did. I tried to give it my all, and we came out with a win. That’s all I could really ask for.”
More importantly, Turner was pleased with the team’s performance.
“I really felt like, in the second half, we were starting to play relentless. Everybody was just doing their job, playing their assignment,” he said. “Nobody was bashing on each other and getting mad, fighting over the situation that we were in. We just all stuck together and pulled out the win.”
Hale McGranahan covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hale_AJC