Practice report: Swearinger ready to return

With senior safety D.J. Swearinger out of last week's game against Missouri due to a helmet-to-helmet hit in the UAB game the week before, freshman T.J. Gurley stood in and had a solid game. This week Swearinger returns as sixth-ranked South Carolina looks to move to 3-0 in SEC play when they travel to Lexington to take on Kentucky.

The story of the week last week for sixth-ranked South Carolina was the suspension of safety D.J. Swearinger. Swearinger missed Saturday's 31-10 win over Missouri, but wasn't missed much as freshman T.J. Gurley stepped in and performed well.

"Obviously there were still some things we need to get better on, but T.J. Gurley came in and I don't think he had a missed assignment, maybe one," defensive backs coach Grady Brown said. "He did a nice job of filling in. The corners played probably the most disciplined game they've played all year. We made progress; we just have to continue building on that."

Swearinger's suspension was debated all week and clearly showed a lack of consistency from the SEC in regards to enforcing the helmet-to-helmet rule, as just this past week Kentucky defensive back Mikie Benton was not suspended for a vicious hit on Florida's Jordan Reed. Benton's hit appeared to be much worse than the hit Swearinger gave.

"Fair or unfair, life goes on," Swearinger said. "I'm ready to play against Kentucky. Last week is last week; I'm just ready to play football."

While many focused on the negative of Swearinger missing action, he took a positive approach to it.

"I got a chance to get a bye-week that others couldn't get so I feel fresh and ready to go," Swearinger said.

Swearinger had the opportunity to be an extra coach on the field for Gurley. Brown is one of the Carolina coaches that takes a seat up in the press box each week to allow defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward to stay on the field with the players. With Brown not on the field to communicate with Gurley after each drive, Swearinger acted as a coach on the field for Gurley.

"Every time he came off the field I was asking him how everything was going, how he felt, and just keeping his head up," Swearinger said.

When Swearinger returns to the field this week it has to be in the back of his mind that a hard hit against Kentucky could earn a suspension in what will likely end up being the biggest game of the season next week against Georgia.

"I won't stop playing how I play, but I will target a little lower," Swearinger said. "When I see a helmet I will got a little lower, but I'm just going to play my game."

While the big game may be next week, this week's game is important as well. Carolina will be out to exact some revenge on a Kentucky team that overcame a 28-10 halftime deficit to stun tenth-ranked South Carolina 31-28.

"There's extra focus this week," Swearinger said. "We still have a bad taste in our mouth from the last time we went up there. I've been telling the guys and Coach Spurrier has been telling the guys that we have to really focus and go out there and try and have a good showing."

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