COLUMBIA, S.C. – Coming out of preseason camp, it was rather apparent that Lorenzo Nunez’ transformation from quarterback to wide receiver was a work in progress.
The speed and athleticism he displayed as a freshman quarterback certainly transferred, but when it came to catching passes and running routes — two skills that are the essence of playing wide receiver — Nunez fell behind the curve.
Last Wednesday, when South Carolina departed for its season opener at Vanderbilt, coach Will Muschamp left Nunez in Columbia.
“As far as travelling is concerned … I only travel with guys that are going to contribute to the game,” Muschamp said. “Lorenzo is still going through the process of learning the position and that’s something he’s going to continue to go through.”
Nunez as second on the team last season with 375 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
That 6.4 yards per carry average left many Gamecock observers believing that Nunez could contribute in 2016, whether he was taking snaps as a wildcat quarterback, coming around the edge on a jet-sweep or setting up shop out wide for a screen pass.
Obviously, there’s still plenty of time for that to happen in year one of the Muschamp era.
“He’s had a great attitude and we’re excited about him in our program and excited about the future in our program,” Muschamp said.
Two wide receivers caught passes against Vanderbilt. Bryan Edwards led the way with 8 receptions for 101 yards while Deebo Samuel chipped in with a pair of catches for 36 yards. Jamari Smith, who started in the slot, dropped a few of the throws that were sent his way by Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain.
The tight ends, Hayden Hurst and K.C. Crosby, combined to make 3 catches for 23 yards.
“K.C. needs to have his role expanded a well,” Muschamp said. “We need to find some more answers in the slot, as far as those things are concerned. Hayden, we need to have the opportunity to get him the ball more, Deebo as well.
“We targeted those guys with some balls that ended up going Bryan’s way through the progression read and the coverage that they gave us. At the end of the day, our quarterbacks did a nice job of directing and taking the ball to some different spots when they needed to. Bryan played really well.”
Hale McGranahan covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Follow him on Twitter: @Hale_AJC