Coaches looking for right mix on offensive front

Robinson sees time at left tackle; Shell plays on right side

dmclemore@thestate.com September 10, 2012 

South Carolina auditioned new players and new looks on the offensive line in Saturday’s win against East Carolina.

That could be the formula until top players emerge, coach Steve Spurrier said.

“Hopefully we will find out who our best players are, and they will play the majority of the games,” Spurrier said. “Right now, we don’t quite know who all the best are. That’s why we are playing everybody and going from there.”

The No. 8 Gamecocks (2-0) played 10 offensive linemen in the 48-10 win over the Pirates, and a new name and offensive tackle combination emerged.

Sophomore Mike Matulis started at left tackle Saturday, but redshirt sophomore Corey Robinson played “most of the game” there, Spurrier said. At 6-foot-8, 337 pounds, Robinson is the largest player on the team.

He began his USC career on the offensive line before moving to the defensive line last year. Coaches moved him back to offensive line, and he entered this season the backup at left tackle.

“First time he’s ever really played a meaningful minute for the Gamecocks,” Spurrier said, “so maybe he’s coming around to where he is going to be a very good offensive lineman.”

Redshirt freshman Brandon Shell got the nod at left tackle against Vanderbilt, then came off the bench behind Cody Gibson at right tackle against ECU. Matulis started at right tackle in the season opener.

Shell and Robinson manned the tackle spots together for several series against East Carolina.

Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott told Spurrier that Shell likes the right side.

“Maybe that is his best spot, we don’t know yet,” Spurrier said. “Brandon is only a redshirt freshman. Usually in the SEC, most guys wait until about their third year before they jump in there and start a whole bunch, unless they have to.”

The Gamecocks compiled 528 yards of offense on East Carolina, allowing three sacks. The team’s 397 passing yards were the most under Spurrier at South Carolina.

Other linemen who played on Saturday include Travis Ford (center) and Kaleb Broome and Will Sport (guards).

Elliott will make the call on who starts against UAB and beyond.

“The plan is to play your best (linemen) most of the game,” Spurrier said. “If two linemen are very similar in ability and neither one of them is beating the other one out, then, yeah, you can play both of them all year. … We will keep rotating them around.”

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