COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s first-string offensive line has been mostly status quo throughout the first two weeks of fall camp, but it had a new, familiar face working in Wednesday.
Junior Alan Knott slid into the starting left guard position normally occupied by sophomore Zack Bailey, who was not a participant in the practice.
Knott has been working in and out at the interior offensive line spots through camp as he is coming back from a hand injury that has limited his ability to play center.
The Tyrone, Ga., native has made 17 starts in his career, giving him the most experience on the offense.
With Knott at left guard, the first unit on the offensive was Mason Zandi, Knott, Cory Helms, Donell Stanley and D.J. Park, from left to right.
Wednesday’s second-team offensive line was Malik Young, Christian Pellage, Chandler Farrell, Pika Leota and Blake Camper.
The quarterback competition has been perceived to be a two-man battle, but it wasn’t narrowed down to Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain following Saturday’s scrimmage and it still hasn’t been.
In the past three days, Jake Bentley has made some impressive throws. The freshman QB from Opelika, Ala., did it again Wednesday when he hit Matrick Belton on the sideline with a pretty throw then had two more seeds he threw to Korey Banks and Christian Owens.
They were just the latest nice throws he has made as he capped Tuesday’s practice with a beautiful throw down the seam to Belton for a long touchdown.
What it means for the 6-foot-3 freshman remains to be seen, but he is turning heads – at least the ones in the stands.
Sophomore cornerback Steven Montac had been in a yellow jersey after taking what Muschamp called a big hit in Saturday’s scrimmage. He was no longer in yellow for Wednesday’s practice.
The junior college transfer got some extra attention from Muschamp early in practice to continue moving through a tackle instead of running up to an offensive player then stopping his feet before tackling him.
Tight ends make the highlight catches of the night
Not to be outdone by the wizardry of Bryan Edwards the past two nights, two of South Carolina’s tight ends made very nice plays downfield on Wednesday.
The first came from K.C. Crosby, who returned from a chest injury to practice this week, as Perry Orth made one of his best throws of the day as the sophomore tight end went right down a seam and up over a defender to haul in the catch.
Hayden Hurst threw his highlight catch into the ring later during a two-minute situation. It was Orth again at quarterback, as he aired one out to Hurst. The sophomore tight end was in between two defenders, but went over linebacker T.J. Holloman to reel in the catch in traffic and through contact.
Wonnum coming on
Early in fall camp, freshman D.J. Wonnum was mentioned as a standout on the defensive line. It’s becoming more clear why as the Stephenson (Ga.) Stone Mountain product focused multiple pressures on quarterbacks through the two-minute situations.
The tally was three pressures in the end for Wonnum, all coming on Brandon McIlwain and against the second-team offensive line.
Orth, McIlwain each have late success
The final period of practice featured two two-minute drills for each of the two primary quarterbacks.
Some highlights from the period:
- Holloman made two nice plays on the first drive, led by Orth. On the first, he was there in space to limit a dump pass to A.J. Turner to 6 yards. But the following play was better, as he came through the middle to stuff Rod Talley – well, he would have stuffed him if the practices were full contact and not just “thud.”
- Montac had good coverage on McIlwain’s second-down throw on his first attempt as he got inside position on the receiver with help over the top and knocked away the pass.
- Kier Thomas had both a sack and a pressure on the first McIlwain drive, while Wonnum also had pressure on McIlwain on the third-down play.
- Orth’s pass to Hurst kicked off his second drive, quickly putting the Gamecocks’ offense in scoring position. A pair of runs, one from Turner and one from Orth, led to a spike and a 43-yard field goal from Elliott Fry.
- McIlwain’s best throw of the two-minute period came on a 15-yard flag route to tight end Kiel Pollard, as he threw a dart on a second-down play around midfield.
- Wonnum had two pressures on McIlwain’s second drive, while Daniel Fennell had one.
- Fry hit a 50-yard field goal to end practice after he and Alexander Woznick each attempted two. Woznick missed both of his attempts from just inside 40 yards, while Fry hit a 45-yarder, hit a 43-yarder off the upright then hit the one from 50 to end it.
Odds and ends
- Bryson Allen-Williams said Tuesday night he had been getting work at the BUCK linebacker spot. He got some snaps at the position Wednesday, moving around and rushing the passer.
- Early during a transition between periods, Muschamp barked at his defensive backs who weren’t moving quickly enough to “run where you’re going and if you don’t know where, keep moving you feet.” It’s just another example of the up-tempo nature of the practices.
- USC will not practice Thursday as the players have their first day of classes.
Mike Wilson covers South Carolina athletics for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on the Gamecocks.