Gamecocks finish up preparations for MSU
"We had some careless things today that were discouraging," Steve Spurrier said following practice. He went on to say that fans should expect to see a lot of players take the field against Mississippi State.
"If we play some different guys, we'll play some different guys," he said. "You'll see them when they go in there, say ‘who's that?' and look him up on the roster. There may be some, the way our guys have performed this week."
One player who is unlikely to see the field is defensive back Brandon Isaac, who injured his shoulder against S.C. State, and did not play against LSU. Given his history of shoulder problems, coaches are being extra cautious in bringing him back.
"He's been cleared to play," said secondary coach Ron Cooper. "He's been out here all week and taking a few reps. We want his shoulder to continue to get better. I want him to make sure it's 100% when he comes back. We're going to play it by ear to see how much time he plays on Saturday."
Not surprisingly, Spurrier was most frustrated with his offense. He said earlier in the year that the Gamecocks had a chance to establish themselves in the upcoming stretch of games as they play several teams they match up well with. Asked if he still feels that way, Spurrier smirked.
"I hope so. I hope we're evenly matched. Sometimes, the way we practice out here is discouraging. We keep thinking we can throw and catch, but we don't throw and catch very well in practice. It makes it tough on the playcaller. We're going to try though. Mississippi State is pretty good up front. They're an active bunch, a very good defense. It's going to be a tough day unless we can hit a pass or two somewhere."
If the offense struggles on Saturday, it will put added pressure on Tyrone Nix's defense. Mississippi State is a run-oriented team, and Nix laughed when he was asked what he expected to see from the Bulldogs.
"I think they will run it outside, run it inside, run it however they choose to," he said. "They are a running football team, and we've proved that we cannot stop the run up to this point."
The Gamecocks will try to force the Bulldogs to throw by loading up in the box and selling out to stop the run. Nix thinks that Mississippi State is a good test for his team because they are so run-oriented.
"If we can force them to pass, we've got a good shot at [winning]," said Nix. "Obviously, that's our weakness [run defense], so if we're going to be a better football team and have a chance to be a strong defense throughout this season, we're going to have to stop the run. It's a challenge and hopefully our kids will respond to it and go out and play the way we expect them to play."
They will have to respond without linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who suffered a season ending knee injury against LSU last weekend. Brinkley had surgery on Wednesday, and the coaches visited with him Thursday morning. Nix said that Brinkley is upbeat, and looking forward to starting his rehab. Spurrier suggested there might be another reason Brinkley is feeling upbeat.
"I went by this morning, and he had two good-looking girls in there so he's doing fine," Spurrier said.
There is concern from outside the team that players may suffer a letdown this week. Mississippi State is not a big name opponent, so it can be harder to get excited about playing them. Add in the loss to LSU and the loss of a key player in Jasper Brinkley, and players have admittedly been down some this week. Cooper said he is not worried about a letdown, and said there is a simple reason he knows the team will take the Bulldogs seriously.
"Last time they were on the field they won. Last time we were on the field we lost."
Lecorn excited about first career start
One of the new starters on offense this week is freshman wide receiver Dion Lecorn. The announcement that Lecorn would start came as a surprise to many, including Lecorn.
"Coach Spurrier Jr. sent me a text Sunday, and he told me to 'start learning some ‘X,''" Lecorn said, referring to the X receiver position he will be playing this weekend. "Then Monday morning he told me I was starting."
The main reason Lecorn is starting against Mississippi State is because of his blocking ability. He said he never expected that blocking would be the reason he got on the field, but added that he takes pride in his ability. Asked why he is able to block so well, he replied, "I'm 220 [pounds]."
"It kind of makes it easier with my size," he explained. "He told me that was one of the things he liked, so I focused on blocking since the rest of them were doing all the receiving. I focused on blocking until he played me. It wasn't too hard to learn, just go out and block a guy. It's more want-to [than anything else].
Lecorn said he expected to redshirt this season, but he is glad to be able to play. He got the opportunity in part because Spurrier believes in giving all the players a chance. Now, Lecorn has his chance, and if he plays well, he might stay in the starting lineup.
"I've got to go out and do my thing, and do what I can do," he said, adding that he feels some pressure to do well this week. "[Spurrier] is going to give everybody a chance, and this is my chance to show I can be the number two receiver. It's an opportunity, a big opportunity to go out there and show what I've got; try to keep the job"
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