COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Just a couple of weeks ago, Will Muschamp said his staff prepared wide receiver Shi Smith to play at defensive back just in case they’d need him.
This week, the Gamecocks are looking into moving another skill player from one side of the ball to the other.
“AJ Turner’s going to rep at nickel for us this week,” said Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp. “AJ’s a guy that, on special teams, you really see, instinctively, him being able to make plays and field blocks and is a good tackler and a good space player and has the ability to be a good man coverage guy.”
Turner is one of five running backs who has seen time on the field for the Gamecocks. This season, he has rushed for 294 yards and two touchdowns for Carolina this year. Now, Turner is expected to see time as a nickel back on Saturday when the Gamecocks take on Akron. For Turner, the chance to play defense will be something he’ll get a chance to do after several discussions with Coach Muschamp about the opportunity.
“AJ’s been kidding with me for three years about playing defense,” Muschamp said. “We have some depth at the running back position right now. We’ve got some guys we have confidence in. It’s nothing that he has not done at running back. It’s just there’s an opportunity possibly for him to move over and certainly help us this week and we’ll see how it goes moving forward.”
Injuries have plagued the defensive side of the ball for the Gamecocks all year long. However, they did get some positive news that could help that side of the ball. Muschamp noted that defensive back Jaycee Horn could be available Saturday. The freshman defensive back was out after suffering a foot injury. Horn was wearing a walking boot Tuesday during practice.
As for Turner, the Gamecocks aren’t worried about him struggling at that position.
“He has a great attitude,” said Muschamp. “He came in and met with [defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson] for a lot of Monday to go through and just make sure he’s learning some different concepts that we teach and being able to get him on the line and playing. AJ’s extremely bright. He’s fine. He’ll learn.”
South Carolina hosts Akron in their regular season finale Saturday at noon. The game can be seen on the SEC Network Alternate Channel.