Final notebook: Montac, offensive line consistency, repeating Rocky Top
Swiss Army Montac
Depth’s an issue for South Carolina’s secondary, and the coaches have only played five players the majority of the season. But depth is getting better after the Arkansas game with Steven Montac fully healthy and playing well.
The junior had been battling a stress fracture since the beginning of August but was the healthiest he’s been last Saturday. And he could be a big part of the Gamecocks’ defensive plans going forward.
“It was pretty frustrating just having that injury the second week of fall camp and trying to come back first game and I really couldn’t play like that,” Montac said. “It was pretty weak, and I just had to be patient and keep going to treatment and trusting the coaches and the trainers.”
Montac is vital to South Carolina’s defensive backfield because he can play every position: safety, nickel and corner. He’s played a little bit of everything so far this season when healthy, and had two tackles and a jarring hit on a Razorback receiver to force an incompletion.
Heading into Tennessee, he’s not worried about his role increasing; he just wants to make plays.
“As long as I’m on the field I’m going to make plays,” he said. “I just have to do a better job getting the ball off people. But I’m going to make plays no matter what position I play.”
He leans heavily on senior back Chris Lammons, who’s similar to Montac because the Lauderhill, Fla. native can play every position in the backfield too. The two live together and spend a lot of time watching field and building their on-field chemistry.
“Chris Lammons, that’s my big brother. That’s my dog,” Montac said. “That’s my roommate so we study film a lot. We talk a lot. So I lean on him, he leans on me. It’s just one of those things.”
After a rough outing against Texas A&M, a patchwork offensive line held its ground against Arkansas to the tune of 159 yards rushing. A big part of that was because of redshirt freshman Sadarius Hutcherson, who’s only made two career starts.
He was thrust into the limelight with Cory Helms going down with an Achilles injury against Louisiana Tech, and his performance hasn’t gone unnoticed by the veterans.
“He’s stepping up,” Donell Stanley said. “You can tell he didn’t think he was going to play as much as he has. I think he’s kind of getting it.”
Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp on his weekly call-in show Thursday night said Helms and Zack Bailey, who have missed multiple games with injury, will travel to Knoxville but be game-time decisions. Malik Young will not travel.
They could play, but Muschamp said it could be limited. That means Hutcherson and Blake Camper, who played well in Malik Young’s stead last week, will get some snaps in a hostile atmosphere.
“We'll have that conversation as the week moves on and depending on their health and how much availability they'll have,” Muschamp said. “Is it going to be a situation that it's going to be an emergency only situation? Is it going to be a 40-snap situation? That determination will be done probably Thursday or Friday this week.”
The Gamecocks are confident after last week’s performance in the trenches, but Stanley knows how important consistency is to winning on the road in the SEC.
“We have to have a good week like we did last week,” he said. “You could have all the confidence in the world but if you don’t execute in practice and work hard at it, it’s just wasteful.”
If you’ve ever been to anything involving Tennessee—a football game, graduation, meeting where the boss graduated from UT—you know the Volunteers’ affinity for the song “Rocky Top.”
The unofficial fight song is played pregame, postgame, for first downs, touchdowns, water boy coming out to hydrate the refs, Really, it's played any time the band can get it in.
So, in preparation for that, Will Muschamp has had the country hit on loop on the practice field and in the locker room all week.
“It's just something that we do,” he said. “You play Tennessee, you're going to hear Rocky Top a couple of times on Saturday, so we get them used to hearing it. Hopefully not too much.”
Muschamp’s been a head coach against Tennessee in Neyland Stadium twice, winning both games. Actually, he’s a perfect 5-0 against the Vols as a head coach at Florida and South Carolina.
He even had a great one-liner in Gator’s one-point win at Neyland in 2014.
Despite numerous trips to Neyland, he still doesn’t hate the song as much he wants his players to.
“It's not too bad,” he said, smiling, “not too bad.”