By Jeff Owens/Photo by Allen Sharpe
One of the most fierce battles in training camp is at left tackle, where junior Malik Young and junior college transfer Dennis Daley are battling, but offensive line coach John Wolford said Tuesday that Young likely would be the starter at the beginning of the season.
Young, a junior from Pelzer, S.C., started at right tackle last year but moved to the left side this year, with junior Zack Bailey moving to right tackle. Daley, a junior from Ridge View, S.C., was a first-team JUCO All-American at Georgia Military College and was expected to battle for a starting spot after arriving on campus this summer.
The two having been battling in camp, but Wolford said Tuesday that Young has the edge right now.
"We're probably going to start Malik right now," he said. "Dennis has been inconsistent, which you would expect from a new player. At times, he flashes like the guy we expect him to be, like a lot of players. A lot of players flash, the thing is, who can consistently play for 75-80s snaps? And when you are going fast and you are tired and it's hot out and those kind of things, who can hone in on the details that you need to play this position, because this is a detail-oriented position."
Daley, who is 6-6 and 319 pounds, acknowledged that he's probably not ready to take over the left-tackle spot just yet.
"It is going good, (but) it is going to take some time to get used to," he said. "… Just being in the program, that takes some time. It's a lot different than JUCO, so it's going to take some time to get used to. I'm just taking it day by day."
Daley said the biggest difference is the speed of the game, and the tempo.
"Players are faster, the tempo is faster, everything is different," he said.
Daley is getting help, however, from Young, the player he is battling for the starting spot. The two knew each other before Daley arrived, and Young has been helping him get up to speed.
"Malik is one of the players I knew before I signed here, so me and Malik were really cool before we got here and he just helps me with the process," he said. "At the end of the day, it is a battle. … (But) me and Malik are really tight. We are cool, on and off the field. We handle it pretty well."
Wolford said Daley has the ability to be a quality left tackle, he just needs time to get acclimated to major college football and the Gamecock system.
"He's got left-tackle ability. He flashes left-tackle ability. It's a consistency thing," he said. "… It's a new offense for him. He's learning a lot, and we ask a lot of our offensive linemen. We change protections, we change directions … It's not the easiest thing for those guys when they come in new like that and be able to think in a split second."
Wolford had high praise for Young, who he called one of the hardest workers on the team.
"Malik has some experience and right now Malik consistently plays harder than him on a consistent basis," he said. "Malik plays hard, that son-of-a-gun will play haaard. We just have to keep pushing him, too. All of these guys, you have to keep pushing them so nobody feels like they are grandfathered in or in entitled to any position."
Wolford said he has a pretty good idea who his starting five will be up front. Though he did not disclose names, the first team in camp has featured Young at left tackle, Donell Stanley at left guard, senior Alan Knot at center, senior Cory Helm at right guard and Bailey at right tackle.
"I think we have a pretty good idea, but we have to keep challenging guys," he said. "I want to find eight guys who can play."
While their is fierce competition at the tackle spots (Blake Camper is pushing Bailey at right tackle), Wolford has been impressed with his interior linemen.
"Donell, Alan, Cory Helms, those guys, their arrow is up right now," he said. "They are playing hard every day and they are pretty consistent in what they do. They have a tremendous work ethic, they are detail-oriented and they are heavy-handed guys, and that's the kind of guys you have to have in there."