5 Ways South Carolina Can Utilize Bruce Ellington
The South Carolina Gamecocks are coming off its best season in school history and have the likes of Connor Shaw, Melvin Ingram and Alshon Jeffery to thank.
But last season saw a special player show signs of good things to come for the Gamecocks. Bruce Ellington, a 2009 Finalist of South Carolina’s Mr. Football for Berkeley High School, joined the team after focusing on basketball his freshman academic season.
Ellington established himself as a dynamic player as the coaching staff found ways to fit him into an already set-offense, but only tallied 344 yards of total offense and two touchdowns.
Ellington is a special talent, and needs to be featured more than the previous season. Here are five ways the South Carolina Gamecocks can utilize him.
Let Him Play Slot More Often
Bruce Ellington at 5'9," 197, is built like a supreme sprinter.
The slot is mainly for receivers who are shorter and quicker and can get yards-after-catch quickly. Bruce Ellington is extremely fast and was reported to have ran a 4.4 in the 40 yard dash in high school.
4.4 speed is lethal in the SEC, and Ellington can be used to bust zones and make game-changing plays for the offense playing slot.
Continue the Wildcat, but More Passing and Running
It must be noted that while he attended Berkeley high school, Ellington played quarterback—but in a run oriented offense. While there, he totaled 2042 yards passing and rushing while scoring 29 touchdowns.
Although only 501 of those yards were passing, it’s enough background to allow him to throw the ball a few times in the Wildcat.
The Wildcat is usually reserved for the team’s most dynamic athlete on offense. 1541 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior in South Carolina’s top classification (4A) is proof Ellington can be an extreme threat on the run.
The package is even deadlier when the defense doesn’t know if it’s pass or run. Allowing Ellington do both will always keep the defense on its toes.
Run Jet Sweeps
The Jet-sweep play is usually for fast slot receivers who can get the ball and take it up the field. The receiver usually does a motion pre-snap and slows down right before the quarterback hikes the ball to get the hand-off.
This is just another dimension in which the Gamecocks could use Bruce Ellington to execute a few times a game. It will work even better when the run game is struggling. Speed off the edge isn't a pretty site to see for defensive coordinators.
This particular play maybe the most effective for Ellington and will cause headaches for the opposing team.
Make Him Your Primary Return Man
A rise in number of plays-per-game should see fit for Ellington, but it isn’t exactly clear if he will be an every-down player on offense.
To get him for all his worth, USC should make him their primary return man for punt return and kick return.
Last season, he returned 20 kicks for 463 yards with a long of 45. His load on special teams should greatly increase, seeing how dangerous of a runner he can become in open field.
The amount of big plays he could make on special teams, especially on punt, could change games for South Carolina.
Use Him as a Trick Play Specialist
With his talent in rushing, receiving and previous quarterback play in high school, Bruce Ellington could be the perfect player to execute trick plays.
Flea-flicker, double reverses, double passes as the quarterback or receiver, there could be a huge bag of tricks in his arsenal.
Ellington is too talented to be limited to playing one position, and must be consumed in all areas he is good at for the South Carolina Gamecocks to succeed.
Letting Ellington be the trick play specialist will open up the offense to be even more explosive and unpredictable.