Gamecocks turn attention to S.C. State

The Gamecocks returned to "The Proving Grounds" on Monday night for their first practice since scoring the biggest win of the Steve Spurrier era. Carolina goes from playing the 11th ranked Georgia Bulldogs to another squad of Bulldogs that, until a week ago, were not even eligible to be ranked in the AP poll.


While the matchup with South Carolina State may seem to be lacking some luster, Steve Spurrier is excited about hosting the team from an hour down I-26.

"It's sort of amazing that they've been playing football for 100 years, and we've been playing about [114] years, and it's the first time the schools have ever met," he said. "It should be an exciting evening. They're a good team, I think picked to win their conference, so it should be a heck of a game."

One of the heroes of the win against Georgia was safety Darian Stewart. The ball-hawking sophomore played in 12 games as a freshman last season, making seven tackles. Down in Athens, making his first career start, he topped that, making nine tackles on the night, including a few that may have saved touchdowns.

"He made about four last-man tackles in the game," Spurrier marveled. "Darian's one of those players that plays fast in the game. He doesn't time out all that great in the 40-yard dash, but he plays faster when the game starts. We've got some guys that can run real fast on the clock, but don't play very fast in the game. Darian really had an excellent game except for running into the punter that time. That was his one terrible play."

The Gamecocks are still searching for the perfect offensive line combination, and against Georgia that involved junior Gurminder Thind replacing Lemuel Jeanpierre in the second half of the game. Thind played well, but the coaches will not make a decision on who will start until later in the week. Spurrier was tight-lipped about his plans, and stayed non-committal.

"We will look at Gurminder a little bit," he said. "We may start him."

Spurrier announced a pair of position moves on Monday that could potentially add depth to the offensive line, as defensive linemen Terrance Campbell and Kenrick Ellis will get a look at guard this week. Spurrier explained the thinking behind the move.

"We may move big Kenrick Ellis over to offense. He doesn't get to play much on defense. They've got too many guys over there. We've got too many guys stacked up on the d-line right now so Kenrick and Terrance Campbell are two guys that we need to look at and see if they can help us. We'll try them at guards. They may be our backup guards this week. We're too stacked up right now with D-linemen. We probably should have switched them last spring, but nobody said we're the smartest guys in the world."


Succop clutch in win over Georgia

Another hero of the win over Georgia was kicker Ryan Succop. The junior made all three of his field goal attempts, and had seven punts for an average of 40.7 yards. For his performance, Succop was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.

Succop spoke with GamecockAnthem following the win, and had to be pulled away from the celebration to talk about his day.

"It's awesome," he said, describing the atmosphere in the locker room. "I wish everyone could get in there and see it. There's so much excitement, and so much energy. We've been so close [before]."

As a kicker, Succop only has a handful of plays each game where he can make an impact. Kickers are taught to concentrate on each kick, and block out everything else. Succop admitted that it was hard to do that against the 11th ranked team in the country.

"I was just focusing on the task at hand," he said. "As the game progressed, we knew that it was a close ballgame, and one that could potentially be won by a field goal. I tried to focus on doing the best I could on every kick. You never know which one the last one is going to be."

Looking back on his performance, and that of the team, Succop said, "It felt pretty good tonight."

Succop has won the conference players of the week honor once before. In the 2006 season opener against Mississippi State, he also kicked three field goals, and punted six times for a 48.7 yard average. He would have punted a seventh time, but feeling pressure, he tucked in a punt and scrambled 16 yards for a first down.


Notes:

- Quarterback Chris Smelley, who did not practice last week with a shoulder injury, practiced Monday on a limited basis. Linebacker Cody Wells (leg) also returned to practice.

- Wide receiver Chris Culliver (left ankle), linebacker Dustin Lindsey (right knee), and defensive lineman Nathan Pepper (right leg) were held out of practice with injuries suffered against Georgia. The group was joined by guard Kevin Young (left ankle), running back Bobby Wallace (right shoulder), and linebacker Yvan Banag (right knee), who have been out since last week. Culliver is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.


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