Gamecocks continue preparations for UNC

The start of the State Fair just a few blocks away meant nothing for the Gamecocks on Wednesday afternoon, as they went through another long practice in continued preparation for this Saturday's bout against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Read inside for a full report on Wednesday's workout.

The team practiced without one of its starters, as junior cornerback Carlos Thomas missed practice and will sit out the game against UNC with a neck injury he suffered during practice on Tuesday. Steve Spurrier spoke at length about Thomas and his replacement, true freshman Addison Williams.

"Carlos probably will not play," Spurrier said. "He could be back next week, but he'll have to practice and be able to do some stuff, so we'll hold him out until whenever the doctors say he's 100 percent. He said he went numb a little bit. He was never immobile, he was always moving a little bit, but it could have been serious.

"With Carlos not out there it saves us a couple penalties," joked Spurrier, referring to Thomas' tendency to pick up big penalties. "He can find some penalties somehow. Carlos has covered well this year. He's had a few penalties that we could do without, but he's played pretty well."

His replacement, Williams, is a 5'9" freshman from Atlanta. Williams struggled early in the season, but has made enough progress that the coaches are trusting him to start this weekend. Spurrier talked about what he sees in the young corner.

"He's not real big, but Captain [Munnerlyn]'s not very big either," he said. "He knows his stuff. He can play."

Another freshman, quarterback Chris Smelley, will be making his first road start. He played in the second half against LSU, giving him some experience in front of a hostile crowd. Spurrier is not too worried about his quarterback feeling pressure from the fans.

"Does it make a difference?" he asked. "I think their field's got grass, [and] is 100 yards just like all these others we've been playing on. It won't bother him being on the road. Their defense may bother him and bother us. They have a pretty good defense."

Boyd ready for battle of the Carolinas.

Leading rusher Cory Boyd has a secret, a terrible secret. He revealed his shame Wednesday afternoon: he's a North Carolina fan.

"I was always a Tar Heel fan in basketball," said Boyd, although he added he "never really knew anything about their program for football."

"I'm always going to be a Tar Heel fan," he admitted. "When it comes down to football, we've got to let that thing go. I'm just looking forward to seeing the atmosphere out there. This is my first time playing in North Carolina. It's going to be a good game. Hopefully we can start a rivalry back up, with the borders, and see who is the real Carolina."

At the midway point of the season, Boyd credits the Gamecocks' success to overall team play. The recent emergence of the previously dormant special teams unit completed the team, and Boyd sees no reason Carolina will not continue to improve.

"The special teams stepped up," he said. "The offense and the passing has definitely come around. We've got some stability there with the quarterback, and hopefully we can get some more with the line. The defense has been playing super, stopping the pass game, and hopefully they can get to stopping the run and we can just keep going as a unit. The sky's the limit for this team."

On the down side, Boyd said that the injury to Carlos Thomas during practice Tuesday was a shock to the team. Fortunately, Thomas is fine, and he is able to focus on football again.

"I actually didn't see it," he said. "We were on the other field. I just saw him laying there. We tried to keep practice going, but it was pretty hard to not look over there and see one of your fellow teammates on the ground. I try not to look at injuries. They might plague you and you start getting thoughts in your head. That's something that we try not to do. When the ambulance came out here yesterday, I believe that was the first time I've ever seen the ambulance out here at practice. It was a scary sight. I'm just glad to see that he's okay and it's not that bad. Hopefully we can get him back a little earlier than what we expect."


- Injured middle linebacker Dustin Lindsey is MIA. When asked about Lindsey's knee injury, Spurrier put out an APB. "If you can find him, would you let him know we're looking for him? He doesn't show up [to practice]."

- Spurrier declined to say much about USC's new admissions policy, something he argued for prior to the season. He said simply, "It's fine," as he jogged off the practice field.

- It was announced Tuesday that Spurrier will receive the 2007 Davey O'Brien Legends Award for his contributions to the game of football. "It's very nice," he said. "I appreciate it. They asked me if I could be there. You have to be there to win it."

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