Offense "Sloppy" In Tuesday Workout

The Gamecocks hit the practice fields for the fourth time Tuesday night, but for the first time this fall, Steve Spurrier was unhappy with the results. Read inside for this full report on Tuesday evening's workout.

"I had to do a little yelling tonight, but other than that it was just another practice. It was a pretty sloppy practice for the offense," Spurrier said. "Most of the offensive linemen don't know whether to go right or left; they guess and go the wrong way. We ran about six or seven gassers after practice [because] it was a sloppy one."

Spurrier did find a few positives on the night, beginning with all the post practice running. He was pleased that every one of the players was able to complete the running, even in the oppressive heat wave that has blasted Columbia this week. Spurrier joked that with all the other concerns, he is at least confident his team can outrun anybody.

"We're running in the wrong directions a lot right now," he said, "but hopefully we can get that straightened out."

As is often the case, the defense is getting the best of the offense early on. Between the confusion on the offensive line and the youth throughout the offense, everything is working in the defense's favor right now.

"The defensive guys always play faster than offensive guys in shorts," Spurrier observed. "Hopefully we can run right through Georgia and Florida and Tennessee and them other schools the way we run through our [offensive] line right now. Our line always seems to get a little bit better as the season goes. Hopefully we'll do that again this year."

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night for the defense was Mike West. A highly regarded member of Spurrier's first recruiting class, the senior has struggled to find a position. West played safety in junior college before moving to linebacker in his first year at USC and then transitioning wide receiver last season. He began this fall back at linebacker, but spent Tuesday night working at cornerback.

Spurrier was pleased with how West performed in his first attempt at the position, saying, "He went to defensive corner tonight and looked pretty doggone good." Spurrier continued his analysis of West, saying, "He intercepted a pass or two and that may be his position. He's built like that kid from Arkansas (Chris Houston) that was a first round pick. Maybe that's the position that Mike's been looking for."

Senior journeyman Mike West could find a home at cornerback this season, according to Coach Spurrier.

Paulk Hoping For Strong Sophomore Season

The Gamecocks are expecting their defense, which was average at best last year, to play at a much higher level this season. The squad has looked strong so far in practice, but the real test will not come until everyone straps on the pads. The heart of that defense is expected to be the linebacking corps, led by all-everything Jasper Brinkley and his twin brother Casper. The forgotten man in the group, however, may be sophomore Rodney Paulk. The 6'0", 217 pound Paulk is no slouch himself, having been named to the Freshman All-SEC team last year. Entering his second year in the system, Paulk feels like he is poised for a breakout season in 2007.

"I've been focusing pretty much on getting stronger and getting faster," he says. "I feel a lot better. I already have a year under my belt, I pretty much know what to look for within the system, and know what the coaches are asking for."

Paulk says his goal is to be named to the All-SEC team this year, but there are more important things on his mind. He talks about the process of building a winning team, and how it starts with increasing the talent on the team before they ever take the field. Once the games start, he will forget all about those season-ending goals.

"We have a lot more people playing the linebacker position, which is only going to bring out the best in all of us. The team goal is to win the SEC Championship and make a big bowl game. You've got to understand, playing in the SEC; every game is a hard game. Therefore we can't overlook any game. We're going to focus on each game one at a time."


- With Mike West working at cornerback, Sam Pope was tried at free safety in Tuesday's practice.

- Offensive lineman Garrett Anderson has an injured right hand. He will be reevaluated tomorrow, but is not expected to be out long and is not wearing a cast.

- Kenrick Ellis sat out the first three practices due to missing summer school classes, but returned Tuesday. Spurrier was pleased with the way Ellis played, and the fact that the massive defensive tackle was able to complete the entire running after practice. Spurrier did grow tired of answering questions about class attendance, asking rhetorically, "How many players has Alabama got on academic probation this week? I'm just curious."

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