Cloninger Soundoff: Gamecocks need center balance

Posted by DAVID CLONINGER on September 25, 2013 

Cody Waldrop

TRAVIS BELL — Sideline Carolina

  • GAMECOCKS VS. KNIGHTS

    WHO: No. 12 USC (2-1) vs. Central Florida (3-0)

    WHEN: Sept. 28, Noon

    WHERE: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando

    TV: ABC

    RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 in the Columbia area (in-stadium frequencies in Orlando, 93.1 FM/primary and 93.9 FM/secondary).

    SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91

    LINE: USC by 7

    WEATHER FORECAST: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. North northeast wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

First, let me say that I’m not looking at it as a negative. It can’t be anything but a positive after the way it has worked out.

But I’m just not certain how this will work out Saturday, and if necessary, for the rest of the season.

Steve Spurrier says Cody Waldrop and Clayton Stadnik each could play Saturday, when the No. 12 Gamecocks travel to UCF. Either is a good thing. Waldrop earned the starting center job because he was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, and Stadnik, when everybody feared the worst after Waldrop sprained his foot, has played well in Waldrop’s absence. Whoever gets the call should do well.

Will both really play? Is this a rotation to watch throughout the season? Is it a case of letting Stadnik play some because he deserves it, or because they want to ease Waldrop back in while he’s still getting back in game shape?

The latter two options seem to be the most likely scenarios. After all, Waldrop earned the starting job. Having Stadnik play so well doesn’t erase that. And with a foot injury for a player that has to use his feet to get leverage on every single snap, throwing him back out there for a full game right off the bat might not be the best plan.

I’m pretty sure this game will be the switch game, and then Waldrop (if healthy) will remain as the starter. That’s the way the Gamecocks planned and wanted it this year. I’m not sure how it would work otherwise.

Quarterbacks can switch in and out all the time. Pretty much any other position can with no definite loss in stability. Center, though, is something that has to be consistent. While the two players have each been great this year, pulling them in and out series by series if each continues to play well will most likely yield a sour result.

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