COLUMBIA, S.C. — Despite more work, Rico Dowdle has yet to solidify himself as South Carolina’s starting running back.
In his much-anticipated debut, the freshman from Asheville, N.C. rushed 9 times for 47 yards against Texas A&M. Eight days later, Dowdle got the starting nod against Georgia.
The stat line looked solid: 7 carries for 30 yards and a score, but start No. 1 wasn’t without blemish. A second-quarter fumble halted what looked to be a promising drive for the Gamecocks.
“He’s got to have his hand above his elbow,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “He dropped his hand below his elbow and exposed the ball. Their player came in and made a nice play, so it’s all technical in those situations.”
For Dowdle, that’s good news.
“Just understand what you need to do to improve,” Muschamp said. “Keep your hand above your elbow, squeeze the ball, three points of pressure on a football in a ball-security situation, especially in traffic. Just do a better job of securing the ball.”
Dowdle’s 4.8 yards per carry is tied with David Williams for the highest average among South Carolina running backs. A.J. Turner, who averages 4.4 yards per clip, leads the team with 300 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
“Whoever practices the best,” Muschamp said, will start against Massachusetts on Saturday.
All three running backs have started this season.
Orth on Bentley
Much has been written about Perry Orth and his relationship with freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain.
Since January, the senior has been gracious in his efforts to get the former 4-star recruit up to speed for life in the SEC. Then, of course, there was the photo of them praying together before the East Carolina game, which went viral.
They’ve split time at quarterback for the Gamecocks this season. Whether one or both plays against UMass will be learned around noon ET on Saturday.
Freshman Jake Bentley is also in the mix.
During last week’s player availability, Orth graciously fielded a few questions about Bentley.
“He’s good,” Orth said. “He’s got a lot of ability. He’s still working on some things and I’m excited for his future down the road. I’m excited to watch him play.”
Enter Chris Lammons
Lord, can someone please just catch a punt?
Those words, or something like them, were probably uttered during services around Columbia over the last few Sunday mornings.
Junior cornerback Chris Lammons has been tapped as the next man who will try to exorcise South Carolina’s punt return demons.
“I’ve just got to be back there, make plays, catch the ball and put our team in better field position,” Lammons said.
“You’ve got to make sure that you catch the ball,” Lammons said. “There’s no doubt. You can’t drop the ball in big-game situations.
“You’ve got to take your time, look the ball in and catch it.”
An ‘A’ for effort
Save for the defense’s first-half performance against Mississippi State, Muschamp is very pleased with his team’s effort during the first six games this season.
“Our effort has been outstanding,” Muschamp said. “That’s the one thing, you turn the tape on and I’ve got opposing coaches calling me saying, ‘Your guys are playing hard.’
While that’s all well and good, it still doesn’t change the fact about the Gamecocks’ subpar 2-4 record.
“At the end of the day, that’s a starting point,” Muschamp said. “That’s not where we want to be though. We’ve got to continue to improve.”