Tuesday Notebook: Gamecocks prep for Kentucky

On Tuesday the Gamecocks went through their final real practice of the week before facing off against Kentucky in a nationally televised showdown on Thursday night. The players worked out in shoulder pads and shorts and will have a final walk-through on Wednesday. Read inside for a full report on South Carolina's preparations for the 8th ranked Wildcats.


The only news from "The Proving Grounds" on Tuesday was injury news, most of which was positive for the Gamecocks. Running back Mike Davis returned to practice after suffering a thigh bruise against Mississippi State. Offensive lineman Gurminder Thind did not practice, but was back in pads and walking around without a brace on his injured ankle. Defensive tackle Ladi Ajiboye suffered a scare on Monday night when he became dizzy after taking some medication. Paramedics were called and attended to Ajiboye, but cleared him to practice and play.

"It's just precautionary," said Steve Spurrier. "He had some kind of allergic reaction or something. He was a little dizzy so they called 911. He's out here [practicing]."

Running back Cory Boyd practiced for the second straight day after injuring his knee against the Bulldogs. He said the knee is fine, though he was not so sure it was going to be when the injury first occurred.

"It feels good. I got some rehab in and iced it down, and tried to strengthen it a little bit more," he said. "Whenever you get an injury, you feel like it's going to be the worst injury ever. The coaches and some of the players stayed in my head, telling me to think positively. That's all I did, and I tried not to think about the pain, and as the game went along I really didn't pay too much attention to it."

The final injury note came courtesy of defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis, who took out his second teammate this season. In week two, Ellis fell on Kevin Young's ankle and knocked Young out of the lineup. This week, Ellis knocked Chris Hail out of practice with a chipped tooth.

"He was messing around with big Kenrick," said Spurrier. "I think I'd mess around with somebody besides big Kenrick."

With their explosive passing attack, Kentucky will be the first big test for the Gamecock secondary this season, who currently have the nation's top rated pass defense. Don't talk to cornerback Captain Munnerlyn about the ranking, however. He dismissed the statistics when asked about what they mean.

"I try not to look at stuff like that because that's when you go out there and have a bad game," he said. "I'm just taking it one step at a time. I don't look at rankings right now. At the end of the season, maybe I'll look at them and be like, ‘Okay, we're number one in the nation.'"

Munnerlyn also disagreed with the suggestion that this will be the game of the year for the secondary.

"I wouldn't say this is the test of the year," he said. "This is just a test to see where we stand at. I believe Tennessee and Florida down the road will throw the ball against us too."

Safety Chris Hampton respectfully disagreed with Munnerlyn, singing the Wildcats' praises.

"This is the game that the secondary will have to step up," he explained. "This will be a game probably on our shoulders to stop the pass. They have a great quarterback going for the Heisman, good receivers. We have to play our best Thursday, and we're looking forward to it. Kentucky will be the best passing team we'll go against, so we have to play our best this week."

Both players are excited to finally play a team that likes to pass the ball, after playing all run-oriented teams up to this point.

"I'm looking forward to playing against [Kentucky]," Munnerlyn said. "I hope they throw the ball 45 times against us, maybe we can make a couple plays."

"I look forward to the competition," added Hampton. "We just have to play our game, make sure we do our assignments right. I have full confidence [the coaches] are going to put us in the right position against them. We just have to play disciplined."


Notes:

- The team will stay in the team hotel Wednesday night and during the day Thursday. The players will miss class unless they have a test.


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