For the South Carolina Gamecocks, there have been a number of key losses at each position going into this season. That can be said about any team. But the one position group that has essentially stayed the same is the offensive line.
Returning four of the five starters from last season, what was once considered the Gamecocks’ biggest weakness may now be considered the key piece to their offense. Here I will compare and show the little difference between the o-Line starters of 2013 and the projected starters for this upcoming 2014 season, judging by the spring depth chart.
The 2013 depth chart starters looked like this:
LT-Corey Robinson (6-8, 341)
RT-Brandon Shell (6-6, 323)
LG-AJ Cann (6-4, 314)
RG-Ronald Patrick (6-2, 315)
C-Cody Waldrop (6-2, 319)
The only two other Gamecocks who made a start on the line was Clayton Stadnik at center, starting seven games in place of Waldrop due to injury, and Will Sport, who started one game at RG against Tennessee for Patrick. The other three started every game for the Gamecocks in 2013.
The 2014 projections show a mirror image of the line from last season, with the exception of Ronald Patrick. Here are this season’s projected starters:
Here is a closer look at each player.
LT- Corey Robinson
A 5th year senior with 22 career starts, Robinson is slated to get the nod at the left guard position after starting every game there in 2013. A member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll, Phil Steele and Athlon both have him on the preseason third-team All-SEC.
It’s only fitting that Dylan Thompson’s roommate is a key piece in protecting him. Voted a permanent team Captain as a junior last season, Cann was also a member of the SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll for a third time. Cann was named to the preseason first-team All-SEC squad by Phil Steele and Athlon.
A third year sophomore with only six career starts, all of which came last season, Waldrop is number one on the depth chart at center. He can also see some action at guard with second string center Clayton Stadnik expected to give a push to start at center as well. Waldrop was named to the preseason Rimington Award watch list, which recognizes the outstanding centers in the nation.
A junior in his fourth year is the shoe filler for the only missing starter of 2013, Ronald Patrick. 2014 is the first season Matulis, the recipient of the “Everyday Hustle Award” for the offense this spring, is able to practice with injuries previously holding him back. Matulis has not always been at the guard position, moving there from tackle, boosting the Gamecocks depth at both positions.
Another big piece to the Gamecock offense is this fourth year junior, who has plenty of experience with 23 career starts including all 13 last season as well. Shell was named to the All-SEC Second Team by Phil Steele and Athlon and received the 2013 “Everyday Effort” award and the 2014 “Outstanding Weight Room” award this spring.
This group of players won’t lack skills on or off the field. Offensive success starts with this group, and most Gamecock fans for the first time in a long time are talking about them. Finally, an offensive line at South Carolina that could arguably be the best in the SEC or dare we say, the nation?