COLUMBIA — Former Summerville High School standout Zack Bailey is in line to get another start at center for South Carolina, with Alan Knott doubtful for Saturday’s noon game at Missouri.
Bailey, a true freshman, made his first start in last weekend’s 31-14 victory over Central Florida. He took over the spot in the second quarter of the Sept. 19 loss at Georgia after Knott went down with an ankle sprain. That marked the first time Bailey, normally a guard, had played center in a game.
Knott, a sophomore, started eight games at center last season. Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that he doubted either Knott or starting running back Brandon Wilds — who missed the UCF game with a cracked rib — would be available against the Tigers. Bailey was again listed as first-team center on the depth chart released Tuesday.
“He did a very good job,” true freshman quarterback Lorenzo Nunez said of Bailey’s play against UCF. “The whole line did an excellent job, actually. Him as a true freshman, he did actually outstanding. He didn’t fall under pressure with the blitzes they brought, or anything like that.”
Knott and Wilds both sat out practice Tuesday afternoon, as did starting receiver Deebo Samuel, who missed the UCF game with a strained hamstring. Starting cornerback Chris Lammons, who has missed the past two games with a sprained knee, returned to action.
Linebackers T.J. Holloman and Skai Moore “did their jobs consistently” when paired together in the starting lineup for the first time last weekend, position coach Kirk Botkin said. The alignment also allowed USC to reduce the load on Jonathan Walton, who had been starting at the weak-side, but has battled knee, back and shoulder issues this season.
“He’s playing. He’s a very physical kid, a very physical player, and he comes out here every day and practices,” Botkin said after practice Tuesday. “He’s been kind of up and down, but I don’t think he’s ever been quite 100 percent all year. He’s been banged up.”
Hayden Hurst, a walk-on who has played in each of USC’s first four games as a tight end, has been moved to wide receiver. The Gamecocks had a surplus of tight ends including starter Jerell Adams and walk-on Jacob August, who caught his first career touchdown pass last week. Former defensive lineman Ulric Jones has also been converted to a blocking tight end.
What a coincidence: Missouri on Saturday will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its 1965 team, which went 8-2-1 under Dan Devine and won the Sugar Bowl over Florida — and quarterback Steve Spurrier. The future Heisman Trophy winner took MVP honors in the game after passing for 352 yards and two touchdowns, and also running for a score.