First spring practice in the books

After a long winter spent recovering from two painful losses in the Georgia Dome, the South Carolina Gamecocks were back at it on the practice fields in Columbia as they kicked off spring workouts on Tuesday. But there is already some negativity brewing around quarterback Stephen Garcia, as he and another QB were suspended for the first week of spring.

Spring practice is supposed to be a lot of things. And while excitement around the program and expectations are certainly still at an all time high, today's first spring practice was not without incident as perhaps the biggest key to USC's 2011 success was suspended for a previous violation of team rules.

Stephen Garcia has certainly had a star-crossed career at South Carolina as he has faced both off field problems and high expectations during his time at USC. Tuesday was just another chapter in that legacy as fans learned he will miss the first practice week of the 2011 season.

"We had three players that didn't practice," said head coach Steve Spurrier following the workout. "Stephen Garcia (and) Andrew Clifford, they were suspended this week for some violations of team rules, so that's all I'll say about that. Victor Hampton had an academic issue today, (but) he should be back tomorrow."

As promised, Spurrier would not elaborate too much on his star quarterback's reasons for being suspended, but did make it clear that it was a previous violation that caused Garcia to be out and not anything recent. He described it as "just a violation of team rules," and that "he'll be back next week to answer (everyone's) questions."

The Head Ball Coach also said that being away from teammates is the greatest punishment of all and that hopefully that would motivate his quarterback to come back quickly.

"Sometimes when players are removed from a team hopefully they'll appreciate the privilege they have of practicing with their teammates," said Spurrier. "It's not fun not being on the team, from what I understand. So hopefully all these guys will understand that if they want to be on our team to just follow a couple simple rules and everybody will be happy."

Even with these concerns floating in the air, there was no denying the enthusiasm that filled Spurrier's voice as he officially began another season at Carolina, and one that fans hope will finally bring an SEC Championship to the Capital City.

"Guys were hustling around, looking very good," said Spurrier. "Seth (Strickland), Connor (Shaw), Dylan (Thompson), they were all firing it around and the receivers made a bunch of catches. Of course we were just in helmets today. But it was encouraging watching the guys practice today, a good first practice. Defensive guys did a lot of good stuff, it was encouraging."

Spurrier was also complimentary of his wide receivers, especially the man who is the consensus top wide receiver in the SEC next year, Alshon Jeffery.

"Alshon made a bunch of catches like always, Jason Barnes played well," said Spurrier. "Ace (Sanders) caught a few, Nicky Jones, a lot of guys were making a lot of catches."

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