COLUMBIA — What was once thought to be a two-man race between sophomores Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds for the starting tailback position at South Carolina may have expanded by at least one.
Sophomore Shon Carson has been getting steady work with the first-team unit, and while he only carried four times for 25 yards in the Gamecocks’ first scrimmage Saturday, one of those went for a 15-yard touchdown and he drew praise from coach Steve Spurrier.
“He could play 25 plays if we need him to,” Spurrier said when asked if he considered the 5-8, 210-pound Carson more of a situational player. “He’s a good little screen runner too. He’s quick. He’s nifty. There’s a place for Carson.”
Spurrier actually had praise for all the tailbacks.
Wilds carried five times for 34 yards, Davis ran four times for 27 yards, freshman David Williams had three carries for 25 yards and freshman Jamari Smith had one carry for 6 yards and caught a 13-yard pass.
“The tailbacks ran hard,” Spurrier said. “All five did well. We’ve got five good running backs. You can’t play them all, but they are doing well.”
Carson came to South Carolina has a highly-regarded recruit, but has battled knee and wrist injuries that have limited his play the last two seasons.
“I don’t really know,” Carson said, when asked about his potential role. “I’ll let the coaches figure that out. I feel like I could be an every down back. I think most likely everybody has a shot at being the starter.”
The play of the running backs was one of the highlights on a day Spurrier said basically belonged to the offense.
“It was the first scrimmage since I’ve been here where there wasn’t a punt,” Spurrier said. “Now, the defense got one turnover and we didn’t make a fourth and five or so, so there was no punting. We need to work on punting next week.
“The offense moved the ball here and there. The defense did some good things, but I’d say the offense was overall better today.”
In addition to Carson’s 15-yard touchdown run, the scoring included a 55-yard touchdown pass from Perry Orth to Shaq Roland, a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Dylan Thompson and a 36-yard field goal by Nick St. Germain.
Those missing the scrimmage included defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (bruised shoulder), defensive end Gerald Turner (ankle sprain), defensive end Chaz Sutton (foot sprain), kicker Landon Ard (groin), quarterback Connor Mitch (illness) and safety Kyle Fleetwood (hamstring).
USC will hold its annual Fan Appreciation Day at 1 p.m. Sunday at Colonial Life Arena.
Fans are reminded that the players will sign only the official team poster, which will be available for free, one per person.