Spurrier Installing New "Ball Plays"

The Gamecocks went through another long practice Wednesday afternoon, continuing their intense preparations for this weekend's SEC opener against the Georgia Bulldogs. Following the session, Steve Spurrier revealed the reason for the extended workout.

"We went about 15 minutes longer than normal," he said, "just teaching a whole bunch of new ball plays. Hopefully our guys can run them before the game."

Understandably, Spurrier declined to elaborate on the new plays, but he did explain his thinking.

"They're just designed to be different," he said. "Some of the Georgia coaches have probably seen a lot of the plays from years back."

Spurrier chuckled when he was asked if the concerns about the offensive line would influence the plays he installed.

"Oh, a lot," he laughed. "That's why we run the ball more than we throw it. We can't go back there 35-40 times, 30 seems to be about our number to throw the ball. Maybe we can throw more this week, who knows."

The offensive line situation took an interesting twist on Tuesday. In the morning, the decision was made to start Kevin Young ahead of Lemuel Jeanpierre at right guard. Those plans were scrapped Tuesday night when 337-pound defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis fell on Young's ankle, forcing him onto crutches and a spot on the sideline.

"Big Kenrick fell into his ankle," Spurrier said. "Kevin's going to have to wait probably 2-3 weeks to play. It's unfortunate. We didn't let Kenrick come over on the [offensive practice field]. We left him over on the defensive field today so he wouldn't fall into anybody."

Jeanpierre will return to his starting role, but former tackle Gurminder Thind will also play some snaps at both right guard and left guard, where Garrett Anderson is the starter.

Earlier in the week, Spurrier complained that his team does not play hard enough, despite his repeated urging. He was asked if he had seen any improvement since his criticism, but Spurrier said he will not know until Saturday if it has made a difference.

"We haven't played yet," he explained. "What our guys need to learn is all this out here, all the meetings, and everything we do, it's reflected in the games. It's the only thing that counts. You have to do it well out here, hopefully to carry it over into the games. Sometimes I think we're better practice players than we are game players. We're trying to impress upon our guys that you've got to take it to the ballgame. Out here, it means something, but if you can't take it to the ballpark, it doesn't mean anything, really."

Mitchell excited about final crack at home state Bulldogs

Although he has not officially been named the starter against Georgia (Spurrier said, "We want to keep Georgia in the dark a little bit"), Blake Mitchell is expected to return to the starting lineup on Saturday night. The senior quarterback from LaGrange, Georgia is looking forward to his final chance to beat the home-state Bulldogs.

Two years ago, Mitchell played well in a two point loss to the Bulldogs. A year ago, an abysmal performance in the Georgia game began a downward spiral that saw Mitchell benched, arrested, and suspended, before finishing the year on an upswing. That upswing was supposed to carry over to this season, but poor class attendance during the summer resulted in a one game suspension, and a new round of criticism for Mitchell. He claims he does not pay attention to the criticism, and is not bothered by what others think of him.

"It is what it is," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "Everybody has their own opinion, and they're entitled to their opinion."

Mitchell has never been at ease talking to the media, but on Wednesday afternoon he was probably the most relaxed he has been in some time. He normally answers questions with coach-instilled clichés, but when he was asked what it would mean to beat Georgia, he opened up a little.

"I take every game as a big game; it's the most important now because it's the next one up," he began, before admitting that maybe this game means a little bit more.

"It would be great," he said. "An SEC win is always big, and not having beaten Georgia since I've been here would make it that much better."

Despite growing up in Georgia, Mitchell said he was not a fan of the Bulldogs, although they offered him a scholarship.

"I just decided not to go there," he said. "They had some older guys [at quarterback] there."

Despite the ugly taste left by the loss last year, Mitchell said the team is not thinking about redemption.

"We've put that game behind us and gone on getting ready for this one," he said. "We're just preparing the same as we always do. We're working hard out here and hopefully things will fall into place on Saturday."


- Jordin Lindsey has still not been cleared by the NCAA.

- Cody Wells (leg) practiced, but was held out of contact drills.

- In addition to Young, Yvan Banag, Bobby Wallace, Melvin Ingram (left ankle), and Emanuel Cook (surgery) did not practice.

- Spurrier noted that freshman wide receiver Matt Clements is now working on the second team offense behind Kenny McKinley.

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