Practice report: Gamecock defense healthy

Two South Carolina players suffered injuries in the Georgia game that could potentially keep them out of Saturday's match-up with LSU, and several players have battled sickness over the course of the week. The news was good Thursday as Lorenzo Ward said that the defense should be close to 100% Saturday night.

Fortunately for third-ranked South Carolina, they don't have the issues entering this week's game as ninth-ranked LSU has. The biggest news on the injury front this week was the injuries Byron Jerideau and Akeem Auguste suffered in the Georgia game. Earlier this week Steve Spurrier said both may not play. The news was much better on Thursday as defensive coordinator said both will be available for Saturday night's showdown on the Bayou.

"They both practiced today," Ward said. "I don't know if they're both 100%, but they're close."

As has been the case all season, Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree will earn the start at the two corner positions, but Auguste will play the amount of snaps he has played the last two weeks since his return from a groin injury. Jerideau, however, will not start for the first time this season. J.T. Surratt will get the starting nod as he has practiced with the first team most of the week. Ward says it is up to defensive line coach Brad Lawing on if Jerideau will play and how much if he does, but he expects the senior to get in on the action.

A flu bug has been going around the Carolina team and DeVonte Holloman and Kelcy Quarles both sat out of yesterday's practice, but Ward said Quarles had more of a stomach bug than flu. Both returned to practice today and are expected to play this weekend.

The news from the other sideline is not nearly as bright. LSU is already without All-SEC offensive lineman Chris Faulk suffered a season-ending knee injury several weeks ago. Last week guard Jason Williford suffered what LSU is calling a "head injury" but speculation is that he suffered a concussion against Florida last weekend. He had not practiced all week as of Wednesday night. Tackle Alex Hurst left the team this week to return home to Tennessee for what is being called personal issues. It is unlikely that he will play this weekend if he even returns. Center P.J. Longeran has been limited at practice this week with a chronic back injury so his status is still somewhat in the air. That is three starters for this week's game that may not play or be severely limited. That does not matter to Ward.

"LSU has a lot of great players, just like if we were playing Alabama," Ward said. "They have 15, 16, 17 offensive linemen that can play. We're going to be prepared to play against those big, physical guys that are going to come off and hit us in the mouth. If we're not ready for that kind of football game then we're fooling ourselves."

Despite the offensive line issues, LSU's strength has always been to run the football right at the defense and pound you down. LSU had four players entering the season that could all carry the football, but their starter, Alfred Blue, was injured early this season. The Tigers still have Kenny Hilliard, Michael Ford, and Spencer Ware that have 40+ carries this season. Hilliard is the one that will pound it right at the defense, leading the team with six touchdowns. That stable of running backs has had to carry the LSU offense as the passing game under Zach Messenberger has been abysmal for most of the season.

"The quarterback is always the leader of the offense but they can send so many backs at you," Ward said. "We have to do a good job tackling. I understand they run a lot of guys at you so we have to be good in those situations. They're going to block well so we have to get off blocks and tackle.

"Whether we're playing against the scout team or we're playing against LSU we have to treat it the same," Ward continued. "The bottom line is going to come down to us controlling our gap and tackle, then we're going to have a chance of winning the ball game. If we don't, it's going to be a long night for us."


Ward was asked for his opinion on the battle of barbs between Spurrier and Clemson coach Dabo Swinney earlier this week. Ward was asked if he would trade barbs with Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris the week of the Carolina/Clemson game. Ward chose to take the high road.

"Who? He coaches at LSU? I don't know who that is then," Ward said. "I don't even know what you're talking about."

Perhaps Swinney should take a page out of Ward's book.

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