Cook could return against Bulldogs

The Gamecocks went through their final preparations on Thursday for for this weekend's nationally televised showdown with Georgia, and the team received a pleasant surprise when safety Emanuel Cook returned to practice for the first time since having his appendix removed one week before the season opener. Read inside for an in depth report on Thursday's practice.


Cook, who started five games last season as a true freshman and ranked third on the team with 47 stops, has not been cleared to play yet, but he will make the trip to Athens, with a decision likely to come Saturday morning.

"He's going on the trip, and if the doctors clear him, he'll play," said Steve Spurrier. "He's a good player; a good tackler, a hustler. He's one of our best players, no question about it."

On the other side of the ball, Spurrier finally confirmed the worst kept secret of the week: Blake Mitchell will start at quarterback. Chris Smelley, who "hasn't thrown a ball all week," will be out with the shoulder injury he suffered against Louisiana-Lafayette. Tommy Beecher will back up Mitchell, and freshmen Stephen Garcia will be the emergency quarterback.

"If Blake and Beecher get knocked out, we're going to put Garcia in there," said Spurrier. "I know that's one quarterback they're not prepared for."

Spurrier added that Beecher will likely play some, even if Mitchell remains healthy.

"He'll play a little bit here and there," he said. "There's probably a place for two quarterbacks in our system." Spurrier added that Mitchell has "had a lot of good practices" this week.

The question all summer was which one of the freshmen wide receivers would step up and get significant playing time. Although that question still has not been answered, Spurrier revealed that three of the young playmakers have separated themselves from the rest, and have the best chance of playing against Georgia.

"We've got [Matt Clements], Chris Culliver, and Jason Barnes getting a lot of work," Spurrier said. "Those three are the freshmen that are doing most of the [work]. Until one of them does something big in a game, we'll just say they're all about even right now."

Reaves proud of alma mater

The shockwaves from Appalachian State's upset victory at Michigan reverberated throughout the college football world, but for one Gamecock, the win meant a little bit more. Quarterback coach David Reaves was a three-year starter at quarterback for the Mountaineers during a career that spanned 1997-2000. Reaves spoke proudly about his alma mater, the new "It" school in college football.

"Everybody's kind of coming together, alumni, ex-players, and everything else," said Reaves. "I'm just happy for Coach Moore and those guys. A couple years ago they were trying to run Coach Moore out of there, and now he's won back-to-back championships. He's a great coach, and they do a great job up there."

While beating Michigan was certainly a surprise, Reaves said he is not surprised that Appalachian State can beat Division I teams.

"They've always won up there," he said. "It's a town where they love football. It [is] basically all the guys who were an inch or two too short to play Division I with a chip on their shoulder, who wanted to go out and prove something."

Reaves did not get to watch the game, since he was busy preparing for Carolina's game against the Ragin' Cajuns, but he said he received constant updates from friends and former teammates. Interestingly, when asked which win was his biggest while in Boone, he dismissed the wins over Division I Wake Forest, and cited a win over fellow Southern Conference and Division I-AA member Georgia Southern.

"I think the biggest win was when we played Georgia Southern, 1 versus 2," he said. "We beat Wake Forest, pretty much every year I was there, but they weren't the Wake Forest they are today."


Dustin Lindsey excited about return to action

While one Lindsey is still waiting to find out if he will be academically eligible play this year, another Lindsey will be making his return to the field against Georgia. Linebacker Dustin Lindsey, who was academically ineligible last season and lost his scholarship, paid his own way and spent the 2006 season on the scout team. Then, after a strong showing in spring camp, Lindsey tore his ACL in the Garnet and Black Game, and had to spend the summer rehabbing the injury.

Now, he is chomping at the bit to finally get back on the field. As reporters lined up to interview him recently, one of the first things out of his mouth was something that made Spurrier cringe.

"I feel great," Lindsey said, "ready to get back out there and whoop some Georgia butt."

When Spurrier heard what Lindsey had said, he shook his head.

"Our guy Dusty I heard had some good comments," he said. "I told him it was him that did all the talking, so we'll see if he can live up to it or not. The guy hasn't played in a year and a half. I want those Bulldog people to know he's not our spokesperson. We used to have some guys at Florida that would say something... but when the ball was kicked off, usually that doesn't mean a whole lot. We generally don't have guys talking like that."

Spurrier is not too upset with Lindsey, instead he is counting on him to help out a defense that struggled stopping the run last week.

"He's a little bit bigger guy in there, and he's not afraid to take on a big old guard or tackle," said Spurrier. "We're going to try to be a little bit tougher this week than we were last week. We're going to try not to get the ball run down our throat. Louisiana-Lafayette pretty much did."

Lindsey said he has no concerns about his knee, despite how quickly he returned from surgery.

"I came and worked all summer for it, and now I want to play," he said. "I feel real good. I've just got to get used to this brace they've got me wearing. My knee feels perfect; no soreness, no nothing like that, just icing it every night to make sure there's no soreness the next day."


Notes:

- Freshman linebacker Melvin Ingram, who injured his left ankle in the season opener, will travel and should play behind Jasper Brinkley at middle linebacker.

- Jordin Lindsey expects to find out if he is eligible on Friday.

- Junior defensive lineman Nathan Pepper, who is slated to start at defensive tackle, could see some action at defensive end in short yardage situations on Saturday.

- Spurrier was chatty after practice, offering some of his trademark X's and O's analysis, only he was doing a breakdown of his recent haircut. "I got a haircut today, and the lady chopped me up pretty good," he said. He went on to explain how the haircut affected his choice of headwear for the day. (A Spur's Lid, for the record)


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