Practice Report: The Grades Are In

The Gamecocks continued their preparations for the Liberty Bowl on Tuesday, going through the final pair of two-a-days before their December 29 match up against Houston. Tuesday also marked the day when grades came in, giving a few players cause to hold their breath.

Most of the players can breathe easy, though. Steve Spurrier said that everyone on the two deep is still eligible. However, he was evasive when asked if any other players would be an academic casualty. "The only news is that everyone we're counting on to play is okay," he said. "Some that we weren't counting on may not be okay."

Spurrier was pleased with the team through the first part of bowl practice. He again stressed the importance of pacing as the team prepares to finally play after the long layoff. "Sometimes it appears teams get ready to play like a week before the game starts. You'd like to try to peak right as the game is approaching. You don't want to look super two weeks before the game. You want to look pretty good, but start really getting sharp as the game approaches."

Toward that goal, the players will break for Christmas after a morning practice tomorrow. The players will be free until Christmas Day, when they will have a morning practice and then fly to Memphis. "Hopefully they'll all drive very safely, the ones who are driving, and we'll all return safely and be ready to play our best game," Spurrier said, adding, "that's probably what it will take to beat Houston."

Having had a chance to watch tape of yesterday's scrimmage, Spurrier spoke briefly about what he saw, good and bad. The good was in the form of Moe Brown. The freshman wide receiver scored on an end around, and followed up his performance in the scrimmage with a strong day of practice. "We're planning on him being a ball player," Spurrier said, "and hopefully some day he will be." The bad was in the form of freshman quarterback Chris Smelley. "Oh, he was a lost Gamecock, wasn't he?" Spurrier laughed. However, the ball coach is not giving up on his young pupil. "He hasn't played much in awhile, so we'll work with him," Spurrier explained. "He's got to get his confidence level back and learn how to think. He's got a long way to go."


- O.J. Murdock is the eighth player from Spurrier's first recruiting class to leave the team. When asked if he was bothered by the attrition, Spurrier shrugged his shoulders and said, "Well that goes to show, you don't get too hyped up on those guys. Football's not for everyone. It was interesting that all the guys who did leave quit [voluntarily]."

- Spurrier said the Gamecocks will wear garnet pants with white shirts in the Liberty Bowl, the same combination they wore against Clemson. They will also be wearing a Liberty Bowl patch.

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