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On the mend
Injured South Carolina running back Rico Dowdle is still questionable for the Outback Bowl against Michigan on Jan. 1, according to Will Muschamp.
“Rico is a little slowed, but I think he’s going to be OK. A.J. Turner is fine,” Muschamp told reporters on Tuesday. “Sherrod Greene is fine. Shi [Smith] was fine. … Rico was the only one I thought might be a little questionable.”
Dowdle finished the season with 206 yards and 1 touchdown on 60 carries. He’s been out since breaking his left leg against Tennessee in Week 7.
Off the sideline
Interim offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon will call plays from the press box in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, John Whittle of The Big Spur reported.
“It’s not a whole lot of difference being in the box than on the sideline,” Muschamp said. “The box is a lot calmer environment and you’re able to see things a lot better from that standpoint and from an adjustment standpoint. We have people assigned on every snap where their eyes need to be to be sure we have correct information about different looks that we’re getting.”
McClendon was named to the role after former co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper was relieved of his duties earlier this month.
Sunshine State prospects
With the Gamecocks in Florida for the Outback Bowl, SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan took a look at some of the team’s top prospects in the region, including 2018 4-star defensive tackle Dennis Briggs (Kissimmee, Fla.) and 2019 4-star offensive tackle Michael Tarquin (Belleview, Fla.).
“Lakeland High School is home to several other targets, including 4-star tight end Keon Zipperer and 4-star defensive end Latrell Jean,” McGranahan wrote. “The school also has 2020 running back Demarkcus Bowman.”
Briggs, one of the Gamecocks’ few remaining 2018 targets, recently listed South Carolina among his top 4 schools.
Against the odds
OddsShark installed South Carolina as a 7.5-point underdog against Michigan in the Outback Bowl, per Kody Timmers of Garnet and Black Attack.
The Wolverines opened the season 4-0 before going 4-4 in their last eight games. Michigan dropped its final two games to close the season, losing 24-10 to No. 5 Wisconsin and falling 31-20 to No. 9 Ohio State.
Former South Carolina star and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Damiere Byrd was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday after injuring his leg in the Panthers’ 22-19 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, reports Rick Millians of The State.
“He’s a playmaker on this team and we can’t go too far without him,” fellow Panthers WR Russell Shepard told the Charlotte Observer. “We’re a better football team when No. 18 is on the field.”
Byrd has 4 catches for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns, with a 103-yard kickoff return score, in his last two games.
‘Just footwork, I think, is the biggest thing’
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley is looking to improve his accuracy as the Gamecocks prepare for the Outback Bowl.
“Just footwork, I think, is the biggest thing. Controlling my feet, slowing it down, not being so sporadic, being under control more,” said Bentley, via David Cloninger of The Post and Courier. “Get my base underneath me. Doing a lot more footwork drills during individual time in practice. And just really focusing on accuracy.”
The sophomore signal caller completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 3,975 yards, 25 touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season. In his last four games, against two of the four College Football Playoff teams, he posted a 3-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Gamecocks take Tampa
South Carolina’s media guide for the Outback Bowl made its debut on Twitter on Tuesday, featuring QB Bentley, LB Skai Moore, “Buck” DJ Wonnum and tight end Hayden Hurst.
— Joe (@Joe_Gamecock) December 26, 2017
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