It is easy to point to Marcus Lattimore and Mike Davis for South Carolina’s recent dominance in the run game, but much of the credit should be given to South Carolina’s offensive line. Here’s a look at Shawn Elliot’s unit.
The offensive line at South Carolina has historically been weak, but Elliot has turned the group around in his five years in Columbia. The line will be one of the strong points for a South Carolina offense that has been extremely balanced in the last few years.
It is crucial to protect the quarterback, and Dylan Thompson will be in good hands with Corey Robinson starting at left tackle. The senior from Havelock, NC has 22 career starts and started every game in 2013. The 6-foot-8, 348-pound Robinson is the largest body up front for the Gamecocks.
Robinson is an imposing force and barring injury will start every game. He will be backed up by sophomore Mason Zandi.
Senior A.J. Cann will start at left guard. Cann has a team-high 38 career starts. The 6-foot-4, 314-pound guard will be a crucial leader on the line. There is no doubt that he will start every game. He will be backed up by sophomore Brock Stadnik.
The center position does not have a clear cut starter because of complications with the right guard position. Sophomore Cody Waldrop replaced T.J. Johnson last season as the starter, but he may have to shift along the line. Waldrop did well last season, starting the opener against North Carolina, but was slowed down by injuries. He only started six games his freshman season.
Clayton Stadnik, twin brother of Brock, filled in for Waldrop last season and started seven games. He filled in admirably and would easily fit into the starting role this season if necessary.
The right guard position has some added drama from the spring. Redshirt freshman Na’Ty Rodgers was expected to start at right guard, but he was arrested during the middle of spring practice. He has been suspended from the team, and it is unclear as to when he will return for the Gamecocks.
If he is cleared to play, he would fit in nicely and replace the only departing starter on the line, but it may not be that simple. Waldrop would most likely start at right guard if Rodgers cannot play.
Right tackle will be filled by Brandon Shell. The 6-foot-6, 334-pound junior has 23 career starts and has been present in the starting lineup since he arrived in Columbia. Fellow junior Mike Matulis will back him up.
Those on the line do a thankless job, but South Carolina’s line deserve much credit for the team’s recent success and should be as strong as ever next season.