LEXINGTON, Ky. — Will Muschamp was looking for better safety play heading into South Carolina’s game against East Carolina.
The only issue? A serious lack of bodies. The Gamecocks coach turned to junior college transfer Steven Montac, who had been working all over the secondary, and Chris Moody, a converted linebacker returning to safety.
“It’s day to day,” Muschamp said of his feeling about the progress of the safeties. “We were okay. We are okay.”
Safety has been a concern for Muschamp since he arrived at South Carolina. Now, the position is utilizing a rotation while starter Chaz Elder is sidelined with a rib injury. Montac and Moody started against ECU, but junior D.J. Smith saw the field early after starting the first two games of the season. Jasper Sasser, who came in after Elder was hurt against Mississippi State on Sept. 10, was used situationally against the Pirates. Muschamp also said converted wide receiver Javon Charleston must continue to progress to provide more needed depth.
“I think within those guys, we will continue to rep,” Muschamp said. “The guys that practiced the best will start and the guys that we have confidence in putting in the game and playing well will play.”
Montac, Moody and Smith all said this week they are comfortable with the rotation. Montac, who joined the team in August, went as far as to say “it was great” in the aftermath of his first playing time.
“We are all comfortable,” Smith said. “We’ve got players like Montac. We’ve got Moody. We’ve got Chaz, even though he got injured. I feel like we call can play. We all have been playing a bunch of snaps. I think we played like 100 snaps. With that many reps, we are going to get tired.
“We’ve gotta have some versatility and have people come in and be able to role-play. I’ve been role-playing. Montac has been role-playing. Moody has been doing a good job. We are going to have to keep it up.”
Smith, for his part, understood how he lost his starting spot in Week 3. The junior, who leads the USC secondary with 19 tackles, said he was sluggish against Mississippi State and was not happy about his play.
He felt he played with urgency and more energy against ECU. But the rotation figures to remain for Saturday’s game against Kentucky (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network), while starting spots will be won in practice.
“Everybody is on the same level,” Montac said. “So it’s really good for the whole team.”