Gamecocks work to replace Johnson as anchor of O-line

The South Carolina football squad held a two-hour practice at the Bluff Road practice fields Tuesday night to get ready for the 2013 season, particularly the offensive line.

“We made progress,” said offensive line coach Shawn Elliott. “We’ve got a good first five right now. The backups are doing well – working hard and trying to get better. I’m pretty pleased with the intensity. We’ve got a long way to go to be successful. They’ve got to work their tails off.

“Our tackles our doing decent. Our inside guys are working hard. Our center (Cody Waldrop) is coming around. This early in camp there’s not a whole lot to say except they’re busting their tails to be the best group they can be this year.”

Waldrop has the big shoes to fill at center, replacing four-year starter TJ Johnson, who started more games than any other player in school history. But Elliott has confidence in the redshirt freshman.

“You better be confident in somebody who is replacing a fifth-year senior,” said Elliott. “He works hard. I am confident in him. He’s going to screw up, then we’re going to deal with it. But I am confident in him. He’s dependable. He’s never late for anything. He works hard, he’s intelligent.”

Several new freshman will add depth to the offensive line in 2013. “They’re exactly where they’re supposed to be,” said Elliott. “You tell them to go right and they go left. That’s exactly where they are. You can tell they’ve got some athleticism and they’ve got some fight in them. But they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Several Gamecocks did not participate in Tuesday’s workout. Among those sidelined included Shamier Jeffery (ankle), Bruce Ellington (hamstring), Cedrick Cooper (elbow), Cody Gibson (knee), JT Surratt (lower back) and Mason Zandi (illness). Walk-on Kyle Morini suffered a dislocated elbow on Tuesday. Wide receiver Jody Fuller (shoulder) returned to practice.

The Gamecocks are scheduled to practice again on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Bluff Road “Proving Grounds.” Practice is closed.

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