Gamecocks Continue Preparations For Kentucky

The Gamecocks continued their preparation for Kentucky with a full practice on Wednesday afternoon. While this weekend's game was unlikely to grab anyone's attention before the season started, Coach Spurrier is treating Saturday's contest as a make-or-break situation.

"This is a big game because us and Kentucky are almost identical," Spurrier said. He then rattled off a list of similarities: 3-2 record, two quality losses, and "one of us is trying to get up there and win enough to go to a bowl game." He talked about the importance not only of playing hard, but also of playing smart. "We still haven't played efficiently in a big game, and we're going to try to play better in this big game."

Both teams have put up strong offensive numbers. However, Kentucky has allowed some similar numbers on defense, including over 500 yards of total offense to Central Michigan last weekend. When asked what sort of weaknesses he sees in the Wildcat defense, Spurrier turned to coach speak. "I don't know that," he said, "you'd have to ask Kentucky's coaches about that." Clearly wanting to avoid tipping his hand, or providing any bulletin board material, Spurrier instead went about praising Central Michigan's offense. "Maybe Central Michigan can throw the ball around pretty well. The quarterback for Central Michigan is a beautiful passer. Maybe you have to give him credit for being a heck of a quarterback."

After practicing in the warm weather in Columbia, the Gamecocks will face some chilly temperatures in Lexington. Game time temperatures are projected to be in the low 50s, and that has Spurrier excited. "That's good football weather," he said. "The only cool night we had [last year] was at Tennessee. That's the only time I can remember wearing a windbreaker. It shouldn't bother us. Everybody wears gloves, so that shouldn't affect anybody."

USC released the 2007 football schedule today, but anyone who wanted analysis from Coach Spurrier will be disappointed. He was thoroughly disinterested in the details of the schedule, such as the fact that the Gamecocks play eleven straight games before having a bye prior to the game against Clemson. "I'd just as soon play 12 straight," Spurrier said. "I'm not a big believer that open dates help you. I hear our coaches talking about needing open dates, but I've never understood it." Spurrier also said he does not bother with much input into making the schedule. "They ask me about it. Basically my opinion is we should always try to play seven home games. It helps South Carolina athletics, as everyone knows. We need to go home-and-away with Clemson and one other team."

Other Notes:

Kenny McKinley, who experienced a breakout game against Auburn before leaving with an injury, returned to practice. He is expected to play Saturday, but it is not certain. "Hopefully he can take a hit," Spurrier said, "but he's running and catching." Mike West missed practice again on Wednesday with his recurring hamstring injury. Spurrier tried to put to rest the issue of applause following the loss to Auburn. He said, "I appreciate the fans being nice, but in the long run, we didn't deserve it. We had too many opportunities to come out a winner and we didn't do it. Let's not applaud guys who messed up and lost, and that's what we did."

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