"The players got after it pretty good today," said Coach David Cutcliffe. "Our contact was controlled, but up front there was some leather popping. I was glad to see that because I haven't thought we have been as physical from top to bottom as we have needed to be. South Carolina is a tough team that likes the contact part of the game. We will have to be more physical than we have been to win the game."
Cutcliffe was pleased that everyone except PK Jonathan Nichols (bruised toe on kicking foot) and DT Chris Herring (pulled calf muscle) practiced today.
"Jonathan will handle the placekicking duties this weekend, but Wesley Bryan will probably handle kicking off," said Cut. "I have been very pleased the way the backups PKs - Matt Hinkle, Hunter Bray and Wesley - have responded with Jonathan out. They haven't missed but one or two placements in three days. But Jonathan will be alright for the game.
"Herring is out. He will not play against South Carolina. His calf was coming along pretty well but he reinjured it last week in a half-speed drill. Hopefully he will be back for the Tennessee game, but I'm not even sure of that.
"Everyone else appears to be getting close to 100%. I think Bill Flowers is going to be OK. We are going to get a couple of more tests run on him in the next 24 hours, but he says he feels very good. Chris Spencer's heel and ankle are good. Daniel Booth, Corey Mills, Jeremy Garrett and a couple of more who have been hurt are back and seem to be fine."
SC QB Dondrial Pinkins, it was announced today, will not play against the Rebels, but Cutcliffe said that will not change the gameplan much.
"They run the same things with all three of their quarterbacks. There might be certain areas that you don't have to worry about as much in our defensive calls, but they won't change the schemes they have been running," he explained.
Cut said Ethan Flatt will start at quarterback for the Rebs and that he hasn't made up his mind much beyond that.
"The other two (Micheal Spurlock and Robert Lane) have done well this week in practice, but I'm not prepared at this point to discuss possible playing time for them," he noted. "It may be a feel thing depending on Ethan's production, like it was last week against Arkansas State."
Defensive Coordinator Chuck Driesbach said practice this week has been productive, but not where he wants it to be yet.
"We have shown some signs of being in the right spots and doing the right things, but we are still having some assignment mishaps. They know what to do, but sometimes they just aren't doing it," he stated. "It has been better in that regard this week. Our backup linebackers have done an excellent job this week and will play a lot against South Carolina. Garry (Pack) and Patrick (Willis) are coming on strong. We'll start Rob (Robertson) and Brian (Lester) because they have been doing well, but I think we will see more of a true four-man rotation at linebacker this week. Those kids are making great strides and Rob and Brian need the help. The emergence of the young guys will only make us better as a unit and as a defense."
An interesting fact - Pack had 45 snaps against Wyoming, more than Lester. Against A-State, Willis had more snaps than Lester too. "I've had people come up to me and ask me why I'm not playing those two. I don't understand that because they are getting a lot of snaps," he said. "We don't ever want anyone getting the kind of snaps Rob got against Memphis (92). That's too much to ask of a kid and it cuts down on their effectiveness. Now we have the luxury of four being ready to play and we will distribute snaps accordingly."
TB Jamal Pittman sat out again today with a pulled hamstring. It will be interesting to see if he can get himself in game shape by the UT game, if he is healthy starting Monday of next week.
WR Larry Kendrick got a few more practice reps today than he got yesterday and is gradually working himself into some playing time. Hopefully sooner than later. We will see.
Practice Report: Wednesday
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