Spurrier's Sunday teleconference: Gamecocks working to address deficiencies in kick return units

Vic Hampton likes to get turnt up, but he needs to start leaving the knob on. - USA TODAY Sports

Steve Spurrier knows that South Carolina's special teams play has been pretty terrible in the early going, and he's working on getting that fixed before Saturday's game at UCF.

Abysmal special teams play nearly helped blow a 28-0 lead last weekend against Vanderbilt, and the Head Ball Coach appears to be well aware of the problem:

"We’re not returning any punts or kickoffs very well," Spurrier said. "We keep working at it. You can’t take it out of the end zone 5 yards deep."

Spurrier reiterated that he may tell all of the returners to take a knee if they catch a kick in the end zone.

Bruce Ellington is slated to start at kickoff return while Victor Hampton will be back on punt return. Freshman Pharoh Cooper also could be an option at punt returner.

While Spurrier was probably not 100% serious about taking a knee on every ball that goes into the end zone, the Gamecocks' return unit has, on occasion, been so catastrophically bad that taking an ultra-conservative tack in the return game would be welcomed by many fans.

Victor Hampton has been the only punt returner who has shown an ability to make big plays, so having him back in the mix should (slightly) increase the Gamecocks' chances of breaking off a big one. But that upside comes with the cost of putting your best cover corner in danger of getting knocked out of the game, a feat that Hampton accomplished three times in the opener against UNC.

Ever since Pharoh Cooper was being recruited by South Carolina, the possibility of him getting a look at punt returner is something that has been tossed about. If the early results in the return game are anywhere near as bad as they were against Vanderbilt, it wouldn't be surprising to see special teams coordinator Joe Robinson finally pull the trigger and put the true freshman back there.

In the kickoff return game, the big news is Bruce Ellington replacing Shon Carson. No one has rooted for Carson to work his way back from a series of unlucky injuries more than we have, but 15 yards and hitting the turf on first contact wasn't getting it done - especially when he was occasionally bringing it out five yards deep.

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