Gamecocks Conclude Preparations For FAU

Coach Spurrier met with the media on Thursday afternoon for the final time before Saturday's contest against Florida Atlantic. The Gamecocks finished putting the final touches on the game plan for the Owls, and the coaches announced a few lineup changes as well.

Carolina will not go through any drastic change to the lineup like it did last week. In fact, only two changes are due to performance, while the rest are injury-related. The offensive line shuffle continues, with Web Brown earning the starting nod at left guard. Spurrier explained the reason for the change. "Web's got a little fight in him. Anybody that has a little spunk and competitive fire and cares has a good chance to play for us." Matt Raysor will back up Brown, and has impressed the coaches with his work ethic and ability to pick up a new position. "He deserves to play a little bit," Spurrier said. "His pass protection is a little spotty. He just hasn't done it much, but he should know pretty much what to do."

The defensive line will feature the other change in the starting rotation, with Joel Reaves replacing Stanley Doughty. Coach Nix said the reason for the change was simple. "Better effort." Reaves is "[a] guy that learns his assignments and does what he is supposed to do the majority of the time."

Injuries will force three other changes in the lineup. Mike Davis will replace Cory Boyd at running back, while Taylor Rank and Bobby Wallace are also expected to play in Boyd's absence. Darian Stewart will replace Emanuel Cook at safety, and Dakota Walker will start in place of Cody Wells at outside linebacker. after practice, Spurrier could not hide his enthusiasm that Walker has broken into the starting lineup. "Dakota Walker is getting his first start. Maybe that will be something good for Dakota. He made the big play at the end of the game last week and got the guy on the reverse. He can run and make plays. He's just got to play his assignments a little tougher, and he'll be a real good ball player for us." Walker made those plays while the defense was in an atypical, 3-4 defense. This week, the defense will be back in its base scheme, and Nix could not be happier. When asked if he was relieved to be done with Wofford, a huge smile came over Nix's face and he said, "Yeah! We won the game, but we didn't play as well as we needed to." Asked what he will do with the defense this week, he said, "Line ‘em up and play base: back to 4-3."

Two other players are making news this week. After waiting almost a month into the season, Kenrick Ellis was finally cleared to practice this week. He will still redshirt this year, but Spurrier is excited to have him on the field. "He's out here practicing. He eventually will be a very good player if he can get down around 300 [pounds]. 310 would actually be pretty good. He's about 335 now." The other player in the news is OJ Murdock, as Spurrier announced that Murdock would not play this weekend against Florida Atlantic. Murdock is being held out because of his lax attitude during team workouts. "I told him he was going to miss a game next year," Spurrier said, "and this is the one he's going to miss." Spurrier did not explain why he chose this game to keep Murdock on the sidelines, but it is safe to say that the return of Noah Whiteside and the quality of the opponent both played important factors in the decision.

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