COLUMBIA, S.C. — For South Carolina coach Will Muschamp, there’s no pecking order at running back, but there are plenty of quality options.
Last year’s leading rusher, sophomore Rico Dowdle, usually shares first-team practice reps with sophomore Ty’Son Williams, who sat out 2016 after transferring from North Carolina.
However, Muschamp told reporters after the Gamecocks’ eighth practice of the spring he’s not ready to settle on a depth chart at the position, which also includes junior Caleb Kinlaw and sophomores A.J. Turner and Mon Denson.
“We just put them in there,” Muschamp said, when asked about the depth chart battle between Dowdle and Williams.
“Right now, I’m not worried about that. I know they’re quality players.”
Turner fits into that category, too. But he’s been sidelined this spring as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
“A.J.’s a really good football player. … We hope to get him back next week, but we want to be careful with that,” Muschamp said. “You don’t want to let that linger and we want to make sure he’s at full-speed before he gets back.”
Just like the running back job, the job as protector of Jake Bentley’s blindside is still up for grabs. Junior Malik Young, who started most of last season at right tackle, is one of the two candidates.
“The sets are different and some of the rushers are different on that side, but I think Malik has adjusted well,” Muschamp said. “He needs to be more consistent.”
Redshirt freshman Sadarius Hutcherson, a converted high school defensive end, is the other option.
“I think Sadarius is just a young player. I think, on his official visit, (he) weighed 240. He’s 310 right now. Going through that change in your body,” Muschamp said. “He’s a powerful athlete and he’s continuing to learn the game. He’s going to be a really good player.”
Pressuring the passer
Muschamp pulled no punches when he offered an evaluation on how far along the South Carolina pass rush has come this spring.
“We need to get better. We need more fast-twitch up front. We’ve got to get more edge guys. We’ve got to continue to improve,” Muschamp said. “Been very pleased with Dennis Wonnum. He’s had a good spring for us. Dante (Sawyer) has done some nice things for us. Danny Fennell had two, back-to-back good practices for us. We’ve got to have him come along for us.”
Among the interior players, Muschamp named Taylor Stallworth, Keir Thomas and Ulric Jones as potential pocket pushers.
“We’ve got to get more guys we can count on up front,” Muschamp said. “We are very thin, from a standpoint of experience and guys we feel like we can win the SEC East with. I’m just being honest. We’ve got to get faster-twitch. We’ve got to get better rushers.”