Some of South Carolina’s most influential Gamecocks are not playing Saturday at the Gasparilla Bowl.
Wide receiver Shi Smith, Defender Ernest Jones and offensive striker Sadarius Hutcherson declared for the 2021 NFL Draft after the end of the regular season against Kentucky. On Sunday night, interim coach Mike Bobo confirmed TheBigSpur’s previous report that the three would not play in the bowl.
Their respective exits left South Carolina in search of leaders, to end the 2020 season. Bobo listed four players by name, when asked who took on these roles in recent weeks.
“Luke Doty did a good job at that, ”said Bobo. “He is excited to be in training. He was excited today. When I was talking to the team, he got up and broke those guys. He’s a guy that I saw.
“Defensively, guys like Cam Smith and John Dixon, which has been on the wings for the past few years, his confidence is starting to get a little higher. Now, they haven’t said much, but you see their confidence starting to improve because of the moves they made in the game and the reps they made, good or bad.
“Dakereon Joyner did some good things, I’m talking about leadership and speaking out. “
According to Bobo, there is a line that coaches need to dance to when it comes to making public statements about individuals and their place as leaders in a football team.
“Leadership is influence and if a child has no influence on a football team and you say, hey, he’s the leader, you’re just kidding yourself as a coach,” said Bobo, “then we have to cultivate the kids who have an influence on this football team. Those who have a good influence are the ones we need to cultivate and put in leadership roles.
“Those who have a bad influence, frankly, we need to get them out of here.”
It’s a pretty quick turnaround for South Carolina. After a few days of training and running practices for players, the Gamecocks were out on the field as a team on Sunday night to start preparing for UAB at the Gasparilla Bowl.
Kickoff in Raymond James The stadium is scheduled for Saturday at 12 noon. ABC will provide television coverage.
That game and the days before it will provide the coach Shane Beamer with some analysis of what to expect from some of its players in 2021.
“When you have an experience, good or bad, and learn from it, it will help you in the future,” said Bobo. “That was a kind of message afterwards (training on Sunday). It is another opportunity for us to play, but it is another opportunity for you to gain experience and grow individually and grow as a football team.
“If they take on that mindset and attitude, we have a chance to improve. Every opportunity that you have a chance to improve on, you cannot miss that opportunity. Sometimes, it’s human nature. We all do that. We procrastinate. We postponed things. Why would we do that?
“We will take this opportunity to improve, individually and as a football team. … It doesn’t matter who is standing here in front of you, it’s your football team. When are you going to take that and start growing? There are some guys who are starting to speak up and take on leadership roles. It is a time to not only gain experience in the field, but also gain experience in leadership roles and I think this is a good thing. “
Competition is key. Having players in a “competitive environment” can be productive.
“I think it can result in good things if you try hard and don’t move on,” said Bobo. “That’s what we have to fight against – we’re not just following the rules and not just showing up to play a game of bowling. This is not what we do here in South Carolina. This is not what anyone should do.
“Whenever you do something, you put your name on it, and that is your name – you are signing your name on this Gasparilla Bowl. This is your legacy. “