Gamecocks Set For Saturday Showcase

The Gamecocks finished preparations for the annual Garnet and Black Spring Game with a light workout on Friday afternoon. The players were split up into the Garnet and Black squads, and they went through separate walk-throughs before Saturday's nationally televised showcase.

"We're looking forward to a fun day for the Gamecocks," coach Steve Spurrier said after practice. "We'll play as close to real football as we can, and try to stay healthy." He went on to explain how the coaches divided up the players. "We divided them up as evenly as possible. The coaches took their position players and divided them up."

Like the players, the coaching staff will also be divided up. Wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. will call offensive plays for the Black team, and secondary coach Ron Cooper will call the defensive plays. For the Garnet squad, quarterbacks coach David Reaves will call the offensive plays, and linebackers coach Shane Beamer will call defensive plays. The play-calling responsibilities will not carry the weight they do in a real game. The coaches will have a considerably smaller playbook to work with. "We've limited the coverages to two coverages, and only a couple of formations by the offense," Spurrier explained. "Hopefully our protection will be better [than last year]. I mean, you're only rushing four, but the quarterbacks could barely get the ball off." The limited playbook should limit any confusion. "The guys ought to be able to line up and play football. We're going to try to play a realistic-type game."

The rest of the coaching staff, including Spurrier and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix, will work with both teams. "If you separate all the coaches, they end up coaching their [position] guys anyway. We just make them on both teams and go from there."

Spurrier will have some extra responsibilities, though with ESPNU in town. "I'm going to wear a mic, and talk to the [ESPN] guys a little bit during the course of the scrimmage," he said.

Spurrier also talked about the importance of simulating the pressure and atmosphere of a real game. "Our players are getting excited," he said. "I like having people in the stands, and if we can get it, TV, and put on game uniforms and let them play in as realistic situation as possible. There should be some excellent competition."

Davis on the mend

The Gamecocks have been healthy through the course of spring practice, but there is one key figure that will be watching the Spring Game from the sidelines. Junior running back Mike Davis has sat out all of spring practice while recovering from off-season knee surgery.

"The surgery went well, and I'm on course to recuperate real well," Davis said earlier this week. "It's just hard to see my teammates out there and not be there with them."

Davis is still restricted from running, but he does other things to keep in shape. Davis has worked hard at his upper body strength, and has added mass to his already sturdy frame. Not being able to run makes it hard for Davis to keep in football shape, so he must work on his conditioning in other ways. "I ride a bike every day at practice, I ride a bike in the training room, and I do a lot of endurance stuff."

Davis has to keep his mind in football shape as well, and he does that by carefully watching each practice. "I watch the offense to stay fresh with the plays," he says. "I just get mental reps. I like cheering on my teammates when they do something good, or if they do something bad, I tell them, ‘You need to work on this.'"


- While one team practiced at the Proving grounds, the other team practiced at Williams-Brice Stadium. The field had a fresh coat of paint in anticipation of the ESPN cameras. The home sideline was also dominated by a stage and rows of speakers awaiting Hootie and the Blowfish.

- There is an incentive for the winning team, and it comes in the form of food. "We may have an enhanced dinner for the winning team," Spurrier said. "There's got to be something on it, but there is a winner and a loser tomorrow, so hopefully our guys don't want to be losers."

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