South Carolina will be without its starting right guard for at least a month, coach Will Muschamp announced Sunday.
Redshirt sophomore Donell Stanley sustained a “serious” high ankle sprain on the first offensive play of the game, though he finished the first series. Muschamp doesn’t expect to get Stanley back until after the bye week, speculating at an Oct. 22 return when the Gamecocks host UMass.
“He got hurt on the first play of the game, got rolled up on, and he played the next eight plays,” Muschamp said. “I don’t know how he did that, but he’s a tough young man.”
If Stanley misses the expected amount of time, the Gamecocks will have to find a replacement at right guard for four conference games. That includes contests against Mississippi State on the road next week and home games against Texas A&M and Georgia leading into the bye.
Although losing a starting offensive lineman in the first week of the season is a serious blow to any team, Muschamp was confident the Gamecocks will be able to find a replacement.
“We’ve got some different combinations,” Muschamp said, “and whoever practices best, we’ll trot out there first.”
Saturday was Stanley’s first career start. He played in all 12 games last season but rarely saw time in the trenches, mostly playing on special teams. Stanley entered 2016 expected to fall behind redshirt junior Cory Helms on the depth chart. He earned the starting role at right guard when Helms moved to center.
Redshirt junior D.J. Park slid over to guard to fill in for Stanley once he left the game, and sophomore Blake Camper entered at right tackle. Luckily for the Gamecocks, the loss of Stanley is diminished by the return of fellow lineman Alan Knott, who was suspended for the opener for a violation of team rules.
“Obviously, Alan will be back up this week. He can play center,” Muschamp said. “Cory can play guard in situations. D.J. can move inside, and Blake Camper played really well for us at the right tackle position. He can play the right tackle position because D.J. can move inside and play either position.”