"You could feel real good energy and flow," Paul Petrino said. "They were excited for this game. It was like every Tuesday, there were things we have to correct and get better on all the little things the next two days. But we had a good practice. I like the energy and the hustle."
"One thing you have to do against them is establish the run. It's real important. We've done a nice job the last week and we did the last couple of times we've played at home. We did against Auburn and we have to do it this week. That takes a lot of pressure off of the quarterback."
Michael Smith said he felt better and has not had to spend as much time with the trainers rehabbing the hamstring injury that has bothered him since the Auburn game.
"I am not in with (the trainers) as much, so it's more about football practice now," Smith said. "Hopefully, I'm past that now. I feel pretty good."
Paul Petrino said, "He looked good and fast today. He had a good practice."
Broderick Green has been running with more confidence.
"His footwork has improved and he's running in the right tracks better," Petrino said. "I think when you have success, your confidence goes up and that's what you see with him right now. I think when you are in a new system it just takes time.
"Sometimes with the big back, you wear the (defense) down. With this many backs, you keep bringing them in fresh. Sooner or later, they get tired of hitting them when they are fresh, fresh, fresh."
How have the backs expanded or changed their roles with their recent play?
"They've all shown some things they can do and certain things," Petrino said. "I think they have shown certain things they can do. All of them have improved and pushed each other in practice and in the games. When you get that kind of competition at all positions, that's when you get special."
|Marc F. Henning/Hawgs Illustrated|
|Broderick Green's role is expanding after a big performance Saturday.|
Running backs coach Tim Horton sees all gaining confidence in every phase. Pass protection with the many different blitz schemes run by South Carolina becomes a huge factor this week.
"Our backs are much better in protection than they were at this point last year," Horton said.
They'll be matched some against Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood, perhaps the top blitzer and sack man in the SEC.
"He's a good one," Horton said. "We've got to find him and account for him. We didn't do that last year. Sometimes it was a mental adjustment by the quarterback and sometimes it was our backs just not being strong enough to handle him. I think we've come a long way in that area, but it will be a big part of this game.
"We've got some young backs who are picking up pass protections very well. But we still have to improve.
"What you see with that defense is so much variety. They do something different almost every play, a different look and a different blitz. "With a lot of teams, you see something on the first play and then you see it again on play five, play eight, play 10. With South Carolina, the look is different every play. You see it on the first play, and not again the rest of the game. That's what makes them so tough, the variation and the multiple number of blitzes."
Michael Smith noted the mental preparation for the Gamecocks is heavy.
"You just study, study, study," Smith said. "Yes, they have a lot to game plan. They have a lot to focus on. There is a lot of preparation, a lot of film study for this team. The good thing, we've seen a lot of what we do from one week to the next. Not many teams do all of this, but we've seen about all of it. This week, it's just all going to be put together and it's a big amount to know as far as what they do on certain down and distance situations. It's a big challenge."