Camper goes from bench to vital contributor on USC O-line
Blake Camper was in a spot where any player might sulk.
The South Carolina right tackle had been benched for a freshman in Dylan Wonnum. Publicly the coaches said he didn’t do anything wrong, but in his senior season, he got passed.
Then he got called upon again.
During Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, left tackle Malik Young went down with an injury. He was starting in place of Dennis Daley, who missed the game with an ankle injury. So USC was down to tackle No. 4, which was Camper, a starter only a few weeks prior.
“We cross-train him a lot,” Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said. “Not as much as a normal left tackle is going to get trained, so give Blake credit. (Eric Wolford) does a really good job of shuffling guys throughout the week situationally for something like this.”
Muschamp pointed out that the line hardly gave up any pressures, and the lone sack was a busted protection, so not the fault of the offensive line.
The left to right transition isn’t an easy one, especially on short notice. It means a player has to set his feet the opposite way, not unlike a baseball player flipping to hit with the opposite hand.
“It’s just a testament to our coaching staff,” quarterback Jake Bentley said, “how they prepare us for games.
“Blake did a great job. … He was ready to go. His mindset was right before the game. That’s why he was able to help us out.”
South Carolina’s defense gave up 44 points in its first 10 drives.
It gave up 16 yards in its final four series.
Muschamp said there was a simple change at work, as USC suddenly found a way to corral a high-flying Ole Miss attack.
“We played a little bit more man at the end,” Muschamp said, “made (Rebel QB Jordan) Ta’amu throw into a little bit more tight spaces.
“Our coverage was good when we were in man and that’s what we talked in the second half as far as playing a little bit more man coverage because in the zones, they really hurt us.”
He pointed out the playaction passes gave Ta’amu time and extra protection, and in zone, he was able to pick on USC.
Muschamp also noted the Gamecocks had to proceed gingerly because of injuries in the secondary. At various points, R.J. Roderick, Jamyest Williams, Steven Montac and Javon Charleston all got hurt. It meant seldomused redshirt freshman Jaylin Dickerson was forced into action, and at points, the team had four freshmen, three true, in the secondary.
On those final four drives, Ta’amu was 3-for-8 for 10 yards and got sacked on a third down. His team converted only one of five third downs.
“They were just catching little zone passes on us,” Montac said. “We just switched it up, manned it up. They can’t really beat man-to-man like that.”
The 616 yards allowed was the most ever in a South Carolina win. It was the seventh-most yards ever allowed by USC.
Team captains were Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Wonnum, Zack Bailey and Bryan Edwards.
Wide receiver Chavis Dawkins made his first start of the season and the third of his career.
Tailback Mon Denson had his first career 100yard rushing game. Fellow running back Ty’son Williams had 100 receiving yards.
South Carolina running back Rico Dowdle is helped off the field during the game against Ole Miss on Saturday in Oxford, Miss.