COLUMBIA, S.C. — With an injury to running back Rico Dowdle, the second-leading rusher on the South Carolina football team, several players will have more opportunities to contribute.
Ty’Son Williams and A.J. Turner, both of whom have served as secondary options for most of the season, are expected to have increased roles.
Even though Dowdle has started four times in 2017, he and Williams have both rushed 60 times, but Williams leads the Gamecocks in rushing with 328 yards and 5.47 yards per carry. Turner has rushed 34 times for 146 yards.
Redshirt sophomore Mon Denson, the next man in the rotation, had 4 carries for 14 yards against Tennessee after Dowdle was sidelined with a fractured fibula.
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“He’s a heavy back and he gets the ball north, south. That’s the thing that I saw and I had a lot of confidence in Mon, to begin win,” Muschamp said. “I always said we have three quality backs, of guys that have played, and I always added Mon’s name, because I’ve got confidence in Mon.
“I think he’ll do a really good job. He runs hard. He gets behind his pads. He runs with a good pad level.”
Denson’s first career carries came a week earlier against Arkansas, when he rushed 8 times for 25 yards.
Junior Caleb Kinlaw, who began his career at Wisconsin, now is the fourth running back in the rotation.
“He’s a guy that’s played Division I football, a guy that runs hard, runs well,” Muschamp said. “Given his opportunity in the game situation, he did some nice jobs for us in scrimmages and things. We’ll see what happens.”
Though Dowdle’s timeline for a return is up in the air, Muschamp said the nature of the injury isn’t exactly a worst-case scenario.
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“Injuries are a part of the game and we’ve got to move forward. I told him it’s a bone,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day, you don’t minimize anything; it’s an injury and it’s requiring surgery, so there’s nothing easy about it, but it’s better than being a ligament or cartilage or anything like that, so you’ve got to move forward.”
Dowdle has rushed for 206 yards and a touchdown. As a freshman, he led the team with 764 yards and 6 scores on the ground.