Practice Report: Gamecocks Ready For Arkansas

The Gamecocks practiced on Thursday night to conclude their preparations for Saturday's match up against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Coach Spurrier and Coach Nix spoke with the media following practice and discussed their expectations for this weekend's game.

The Gamecocks edged Arkansas 14-10 last year in Fayetteville. However, neither team looks much like the squads from a year ago, especially Arkansas. "We're a little better team, but they're a lot better team. Obviously their record proves it. They're a good team," Spurrier said.

The biggest change for each team is at the quarterback position. For Carolina, Syvelle Newton moved over from wide receiver to energize a stagnant offense. When an Arkansas reporter asked Spurrier if Newton is a dangerous dual threat quarterback, the Ball Coach looked quizzically at the reporter and said, "I hope he's very dangerous. Have you watched him?" Spurrier also reported that Newton is fully recovered from his concussion, saying only, "He's fine."

For Arkansas, the change came when freshman Mitch Mustain took over the starting job. It is unusual for a true freshman to succeed in the SEC, but neither Spurrier or Nix is making a big deal about Mustain's inexperience. Spurrier said it would not matter that Mustain is a freshman unless "he has to throw 40-50 passes. If he doesn't have to throw a whole bunch and he hands off a lot, he'll be fine. If he has to throw a whole bunch, it can be a little bit more complicated for him. We're hoping he has to." Nix is impressed by the way Mustain has played. "The quarterback is special. He was the high school player of the year."

Any discussion of Arkansas begins with the rushing attack, and both Spurrier and Nix weighed in on that topic. Last year, McFadden rushed for 187 yards against the Gamecocks, who only gained 187 total yards of offense. Nix refused to give any hints about how he plans to stop the run, but admitted that his primary focus is on the running backs. "Our emphasis will start with Felix Jones and Darren McFadden," he said. When asked if thet meant their would be any changes, Nix smiled and said, "Try to go play our assignments. No different than it's always been." He then joked, "In a perfect world we'd score about 50 and shut them out. I don't think that will happen, but who knows.

A win over the Razorbacks would make Carolina bowl eligible, but Spurrier is not stressing that fact. "If we're fortunate enough to win, it would be one win and if not it would be one loss," Spurrier explained. "We're trying to play one at a time the best we can and see what happens."

Notes: The only change in the starting lineup will be on the defensive line, where Jordin Lindsey will replace Ryan Brown.

Wide receiver O.J. Murdock may see playing time this weekend. "He did not have to serve time, so he's back," Spurrier said.

An Arkansas reporter asked what kind of atmosphere Spurrier expected Saturday night. Spurrier looked at him like he had asked if the sky were blue and said, "Have you not been here?" When the reporter said he had never been to Columbia, Spurrier said the atmosphere would be "Excellent. It will be as good as anywhere in the SEC."

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