Practice Report: Team is "Coming Around"

The Gamecocks returned to the practice field Wednesday night and went through a relatively light practice. The practice fields had not drained sufficiently following the recent rain, so the team spent a second consecutive night under the lights at Williams-Brice Stadium. Coach Spurrier was notably more upbeat following this practice than he was after the scrimmage.

Spurrier talked about installing the game plan for Mississippi State. The coaches will begin working on the game plan in the next few days. However, Spurrier noted that installation really began on the first day of practice. "We've been working on a good bit of stuff," he said. "Everybody's playing similar coverages now days. Some play them a little differently than others, so you practice your offense and try to plug in your plays for the other team's defense."

Spurrier was asked how the team has progressed through camp, but he refused to give a detailed assessment. "The [offensive] line is coming around. The defense is coming around. The offense is coming around. Special teams are coming around. We'll find out how much we've come around when we play Mississippi State a week from tomorrow night." Despite his vague answer, Spurrier's comments showed that he does believe the team is making progress, and should be solid.

Classes at USC begin Thursday, meaning the team will get back to practicing only once a day. "We're ready to do one-a-days," Spurrier joked. "We've met and met and met, so they are pretty much ready to go to class tomorrow." Also on the academic front, Captain Munnerlyn and Kenrick Ellis missed another practice as they wait to be cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. Officials continue to state their belief that the players will be cleared as soon as they are up for review. Coach Spurrier gave a brief explanation of the process, and what he thought would happen: "The clearinghouse did not meet on them today. This is the sort of thing that happens around the country. Unfortunately they haven't met on our two players yet. They've got a long list of players, and they don't really care who's in line. Both those young men are fully qualified. It's too bad they can't practice. I think some of their papers got in a little late."

Kenny McKinley seems to have locked up the role of punt returner. He dropped a punt during practice, but Spurrier joke that he did not fire McKinley over the drop. The kick return job is still up for grabs, with Spurrier saying only that "several guys" are competing for the two spots. He explained why it takes longer to identify kick returners: "You don't practice that live a lot. We did a few last night live, so we'll see. We weren't very good returning last year. We are going to try our best to play better on special teams also."

On the injury front, the offense was slightly shorthanded. Moe brown is out with a sprained ankle, but he should return soon. Sidney Rice, who sat out the scrimmage, returned to practice. His shoulder was heavily wrapped, and he was not quite full speed.

"Sidney was able to run and catch," said Spurrier. "The doctor thinks he should be fine in a couple of days." Terrance Campbell was on crutches with a sprained knee.

The upgrades at Williams-Brice Stadium are beginning to take shape. Painters are nearly finished adding the touches of garnet throughout the stadium. Scaffolding has been set up so that crews can install the new ribbon boards along the bottom of the upper decks. The old video board was removed today, and the new one is scheduled to arrive on Sunday. Lastly, new collapsible goalposts are being installed. According to officials, they can be taken down in about 20 seconds.

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