Gamecocks continue preparations for MSU

The Gamecocks practiced again Wednesday, going through an extra long session in continued preparation for this weekend's bout against Mississippi State. After practice was over, the offensive linemen and wide receivers went through additional drills on the far field. Read inside for an in depth report on Wednesday afternoon's workout.


Both units need extra work considering they will be breaking in new starters this week. True freshman Dion Lecorn will be the new starter among the wide receivers, and Steve Spurrier said that Lecorn's turn in the starting lineup is more about giving everyone a chance than anything spectacular Lecorn has done in practice. When asked what he liked about Lecorn, Spurrier said, "He's got a good number, 18."

"Dion is probably one of our best blocking wide receivers," Spurrier continued, "and hopefully he'll catch it when the ball comes his way."

On the offensive line, senior James Thompson and freshman Seaver Brown will be starting at the guard positions. Thompson is a familiar face, but Brown is a question mark. Spurrier likes what he has seen of the redshirt freshman so far.

"Seaver Brown looked pretty good today at left guard," said Spurrier. "I hope he can hold up. We've been trying to get [the offensive line] to play better every game all year. We'll try to get them to play better the 10th, 11th, and 12th game too, just like all the other positions. We've got two new guards this week. Who knows if that will make any difference."

Spurrier was not quite as enthusiastic about quarterback Chris Smelley, who will replace Blake Mitchell this weekend.

"[Smelley] did okay [in practice]," he said. "He's doing the best he can, and the whole team's doing the best they can. Hopefully we'll play well out here Saturday."

Spurrier also talked about linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who had surgery on his knee earlier on Wednesday and will be out for the rest of the season.

"According to the doctor, everything went fine," said Spurrier. "He reattached the ligament that was torn off. The prognosis is good. [The coaches are] going to go try to see him tonight."

Other players have said that Brinkley will continue to be one of the leaders on the team, even though he is not on the field. However, Spurrier said that it will be difficult for Brinkley to have an impact on players when he is not around.

"There's not much he can do," Spurrier said. "He's in the hospital. He'll be around when he can, but there is not a lot he can do except get well."


Smelley ready for starting role

In the revolving Steve Spurrier quarterback show, it was only a matter of time before Chris Smelley got another chance. The redshirt freshman started the season opener, but went to the bench a week later when Blake Mitchell returned from suspension and Smelley injured his throwing shoulder.

Smelley played briefly against Mississippi State in the season opener last season, before a heel injury forced him to sit out the remainder of the year. Smelley talked Wednesday about the difference between facing the Bulldogs last season and seing them again this year.

"Last year I definitely wasn't expecting to play, and I probably had no clue what I was doing out there," Smelley said. "I definitely feel a lot more comfortable this year. Game experience is like nothing else for teaching you how to play. You can get as many reps as you want to out in practice, but the game and the time you have in the game is what really makes you a better quarterback."

Smelley said he was confident when he took the field last year, but he added that confidence was based more on blind faith than actually knowing what to expect.

"You've got to try to be confident when you get out there," he said. "You're trying to think positive. I was last year, even though looking back I really wasn't prepared, and wasn't ready like I am now. I think I'll be more prepared. I've been spending a little more time watching film. I feel pretty good about all the plays we're going to be running and what we're going to do this week."

Smelley said he knew that Spurrier might ask him to go in the game at any time, and he said that uncertainty helps motivate players who are not starting.

"I guess everybody's got to be prepared," he said. "You never know when you're going to get your shot. You've just got to make the most of every opportunity when you get a chance to play. I don't think there is a better quarterbacks coach in the nation than Coach Spurrier. He knows what he wants from the quarterback. If you're not producing like you should out there on the field, then he might get somebody else."

Spurrier has complained constantly that his quarterbacks are unable to audible. He complained particularly about Smelley, who failed to audible against an obvious Louisiana-Lafayette blitz, and paid the price with a shoulder injury that kept him from throwing for two weeks. Asked if he really did know how to audible, Smelley promised he knows certain situations require an audible.

"You've got to audible when they're bringing more than you can block."


Notes:

- Guard Kevin Young returned to practice Wednesday. Young sprained his ankle a day after being named the starter at right guard before the Georgia game. Young will suit up against the Bulldogs this time, but his role has not been determined.

- Tight end Jared Cook also returned to practice following a chest contusion suffered against LSU.

- Offensive lineman Gurminder Thind is no longer wearing a protective boot on his left foot, but he has not yet been cleared to practice.


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