As Joe Robinson stood on the sideline, trying to overcome one special teams gaffe after another Saturday against Florida, a thought crossed his mind.
Is that what hell is like? South Carolinas special teams coordinator said. I am not sure.
It seemed close against the Gators. Two Gamecock kick returners Ace Sanders and Damiere Byrd fumbled, Florida gained 100 yards in the teams punt exchanges and South Carolina averaged almost 20 yards fewer per kickoff than the Gators due to big return after big return by Florida.
We just have to play the next snap, Robinson said. If we stand on the sidelines and we think, Boy this is really something and everything is going wrong, that is probably not very good. All we can do is play the next snap and try to play better.
The Gamecocks have worked on securing the football when they run this week, but we worked on ball security before they happened, too, Robinson said. Robinson blamed himself for letting some sloppy ball security go unaltered when the teams returners were making big plays earlier in the season.
When they made some plays earlier in the year, the ball was loose, and thats our fault for not getting that corrected and not getting the ball tighter, he said. There are fundamentals of ball security that we teach, and they were not followed. We were carrying it loose.
Coach Steve Spurrier is not blaming Robinson, though.
Joe Robinson is as good a special teams coach as I have ever been around, he said.
The task does not get easier for South Carolina this week, particularly the kickoff coverage team. Tennessees Cordarrelle Patterson leads the SEC in kickoff returns (34.8 yards per return).
It looks like only a fool would kick it to that dude, I can tell you that, and you may be looking at a fool, I dont know, Robinson said. Well see what we can do to mix it up, but it certainly would be insane just to hand it to that guy over and over.
The Gamecocks rank 12th or lower in the SEC in punting, kickoff returns and kickoff coverage.
Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles (shoulder) and offensive tackle Mike Matulis (shoulder) are doubtful for Saturdays game, Spurrier said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference.
Quarles, who has 30 tackles, including six for loss, started the first seven games of the year but did not play last week. Matulis started last week at left tackle but was replaced early in the game.
Redshirt freshman running back Shon Carson, who has not played this year due to a wrist injury, had a second surgery recently to remove pins, running backs coach Everette Sands said. Carson should have full flexibility back in about three weeks, Sands said. He is not expected to return this season.
Sophomore Brandon Wilds has recovered from a preseason ankle sprain but remains on track to redshirt.
"Brandon could go right now, but he's missed so much of the season we're going to hold him off," Sands said.
True freshman Kendric Salley, who had ACL surgery in December, is running but has not been cleared to practice, Sands said.
The Gamecocks practice for two hours Wednesday evening.
We had a pretty good practice today, Spurrier said. We know the fans are going to be ready, and were going to be ready to play the best we can this week. We havent played very well lately but we are looking forward to the opportunity.
Eager to help
When 316-pound defensive tackle Byron Jerideau heard Spurrier say he was considering a complete overhaul of the teams special teams personnel, his first thought was, How can I help the team?
Coach talked about putting people on different special teams so if he needs me to cover kicks, Ill do it, Jerideau said with a laugh.
Weve just got to keep playing as well as we can, get our confidence up a little bit that were a good team. But were not a very good team if we dont play well. Were going to try to coach better, also. Im not sure if Ive coached as well as I have earlier, so Im going to try to coach better this week. - Spurrier