USC Begins Preparations For La. Lafayette

The Gamecocks officially began preparations for the season opener in Monday night's practice, when they started to put in the game plan for this Saturday's match up against Louisiana-Lafayette. Read inside for a detailed report from Monday night's workout.

The beginning of game preparations plus the cool weather, had Steve Spurrier in a good mood following practice. In fact, he spent several minutes just talking about the welcome change in weather.

"The temperature was wonderful," he said, "and a full moon, a beautiful moon. We watched it rise over the buildings there. It was an orange, beautiful moon tonight."

Then, trying to help all the headline writers, he added, "The moon's shining on the Gamecocks tonight. Hopefully it will Saturday night."

On Sunday, it was announced that the suspension of quarterback Blake Mitchell would be upheld. In some corners, it was suggested that Spurrier might be upset with the decision, but he flatly dismissed the idea.

"That's university policy, and I'm for class attendance," he said. "Whatever the policy is, you've got to enforce it or else you don't have a policy."

Another player with eligibility issues is safety Emanuel Cook, but those issues took a back seat Sunday when Cook had surgery for appendicitis. Cook has an appeal Tuesday of his suspension on weapons charges, but spent Monday in the hospital. Spurrier said he believed Cook would be released Monday night or Tuesday morning.

"Hopefully [the hearing] will be productive," Spurrier said. "He's in a recovery stage [from the surgery]. He probably would be out one to two weeks, if he's eligible. We'll find out about that later on."

Aside from Cook, the injury list shrunk considerably on Monday, with the surprise return of freshman receiver Joseph Hills. Hills injured his knee in the first practice, and had been out since then.

"We're very healthy for this time of the year," Spurrier said. "Nobody had a serious injury during pre-season. Joe Hills was the worst, but he was out here running around tonight also. He's missed so much, I don't know if he'll be ready to play or not, but we're still looking for somebody else besides Kenny [McKinley] to jump in there and make a bunch of catches. I don't know who it's going to be yet, but hopefully one will show up Saturday night."

Paulk Excited About Linebacker Corps

Another player who returned to the practice field Monday night was linebacker Rodney Paulk. The hard nosed sophomore had been limited with a shoulder injury, but he practiced at full speed Monday night.

"I bruised my AC joint in my shoulder," Paulk said, "but I'm doing better now."

He said there is still some pain in his shoulder, but it is nothing that will hamper his play.

"It hurts every now and then," he explained, "but I'm a competitor, so I'm going to go out there and go hard every play. Sometimes when I run and hit somebody, it hurts, but you've got to brush it off. This is the SEC."

Sophomore linebacker Rodney Paulk was honored with the "Everyday Effort Award" at the conclusion of spring practice back in April.

Paulk went on to say he expects big things from the linebacking corps. An All-SEC freshman performer last season, Paulk will be the only linebacker not named Brinkley starting for the Gamecocks this season.

"We're looking real good at linebacker right now," he said. "Jasper is a real strong competitor, and he's a real strong athlete. I believe he will be ready to play on Saturday. Casper is getting better and better each day. At first he was criticized for his pass [coverage], but he's gotten real good at his pass drops. He's a real good linebacker."

Paulk also talked about how excited he is to finally get to hit somebody who is not wearing a Carolina jersey.

"I'm ready to play somebody else," Paulk laughed. "We've played each other for like four weeks now, plus spring ball, so we're ready to try and hit somebody."


- Jasper Brinkley returned to practice Monday night, and looked to be at 100%. "Jasper was running around pretty well tonight, so he is expected to be full go by Saturday night," Spurrier said.

- Jordin Lindsey is still waiting to hear about the status of his waiver from the NCAA.

- Spurrier said he does script the first few plays of the game, "but I don't follow it. On 2nd and 1 you call something a little different than 3rd and 10."

- As he left the field, Spurrier added one last thought, about the offensive line. "We're better off than we were last year at this time," he said.

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