Practice Report: Gamecocks Ready For Kentucky

Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media on Thursday afternoon for the final time before taking on the Kentucky Wildcats in Saturday evening's nationally televised contest. Spurrier was unusually upbeat and noticeably excited about the Gamecocks upcoming trip to Lexington.

After saying earlier in the week that he would do something new in the third quarter, Spurrier revealed his secret weapon: the coin toss. Spurrier says that the Gamecocks will defer to the second half. "I don't mind telling Kentucky that's what we're going to do," Spurrier grinned. "We've actually tried to defer the last two games, but they won the toss." Spurrier explained there are two reasons for the change: bad first quarter offense and bad third quarter defense. "We've been terrible on the first drive," he said. "We might as well defer." He pointed out that the Gamecocks have only scored on the opening drive once in his tenure at USC. That came in his first game, against Central Florida. Defensively, "the start of the third quarter has been horrendous for us. We're just not stopping them. It's taking forever to get off the field. We've talked about it, but it hasn't done any good. The defense is playing well; they just struggle at the start of the third quarter. Three and a punt is what we are trying to do better."

The Gamecocks will go into the game against Kentucky relatively healthy. Furthermore, there will be only one lineup change from last week. Stanley Doughty will start over Joel Reaves at defensive tackle. Reaves will still rotate in, and the starter will change week to week for the rest of the year, based on who has the better week of practice. Unfortunately, Spurrier stated that freshman safety Emanuel Cook will once again sit out on Saturday due to a lingering knee injury. "We'll give him the week off and next week, and hopefully he'll be full go for Vandy," Spurrier said. The good news is that Kenny McKinley is likely to play. "He's practicing," said Spurrier, "and hopefully ready to go the distance." There will not be any changes on the offensive line, but Spurrier said he hopes to be able to get James Thompson and Matt Raysor into the game at some point. "They'll probably play a little bit. Matt doesn't know his plays quite well enough yet, but he needs to play a little bit."

The Gamecocks will have a bye week following the game against Kentucky. Spurrier does not think bye weeks are important, but he did talk about his goals for the team during the week off. "We'll practice Monday through Thursday, something like that. We'll try to get some of these young guys ready to play. I thought we had some ready to play until today. We did a little two minute [drill] against our defense, and the backup wide receivers didn't know where to go, and didn't know how to line up. That was a little discouraging. We've just got to keep coaching and coaching. They're all freshmen, that's to be understandable. We may have a little Tuesday afternoon scrimmage."

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