Gamecocks turn attention to Arkansas
"We had a little briskness in the air tonight," said Steve Spurrier, "so we had a spirited workout. We're trying to win us a ballgame. We realize that we had some chances the last couple of weeks, and we didn't quite do it. We go on, and we try to beat Arkansas."
Even though the offensive line seemed to play much better in the second half in Knoxville, when Seaver Brown and Heath Batchelor took over at guard, Spurrier declined to name the pair as the starting guards for this week.
"I don't know, ask me tomorrow," he joked. "Guards and quarterbacks, they change a lot around here. Seaver played a bit and Heath Batchelor should play a lot more, he did pretty well. Gurminder [Thind] may get a chance a little bit more."
The Razorbacks and the Gamecocks have split the last two meetings, with each winning on the other's home field. There are not many surprises between the two teams, so Spurrier already has a pretty solid idea of what he will see in Fayetteville.
"They play a little bit more man-to-man than everybody else," he said. "They can branch out and play some zones and other stuff too, but they're tough on defense. Their defense is very good, one of the best in the league."
On the other side of the ball, it is no secret that the Arkansas offense is based almost entirely on the run. With running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, teams are willing to sell out against the run. The Gamecocks will be no exception.
"We'll do like everybody else," said Spurrier. "We'll try to get a bunch of guys up there like everybody else does, and try to make them throw to beat us, if we can. We gave up a bunch of yards last year, but what really hurt us was that jump ball right before halftime. Our two DBs ran into each other and tipped it to their guy. Other than that, our defense has played them pretty well."
Although the Gamecocks were certainly disappointed about losing, there was a much more serious tragedy in the Carolina community last weekend. Six students died in a fire at a beach house in North Carolina. The football team will be doing its part to honor those lost in the tragedy.
"It was a terrible tragedy," Spurrier said. "We're going to put a sticker on our helmet this week in memory of the students who tragically died in that fire. We'll let them know we remember them."
The sticker will contain the final words of USC's alma mater, "Forever to thee."
Batchelor makes most of opportunity at guard
Following practice on Monday, several reporters gathered around offensive lineman Heath Batchelor. For most, it was the first time they had ever spoken to the redshirt freshman. Prior to last week, Batchelor had played all of six plays this season.
"They were fun," Batchelor said of his snaps against S.C. State. His play was so insignificant, he did not even receive a grade from the coaches. "I don't even think they add up six plays," he said.
Since he was not getting on the field, Batchelor chose to focus on the mental aspect of the game. He was excited just to be a Gamecock, so he wanted to make the most of any chance he got.
"I concentrated really hard on trying to learn my assignments," he said. "I got in the playbook and studied that really hard. That's pretty much it, just normal practice after that. I wanted to make sure I knew it good enough that I wouldn't have to think about what to do, and just do it on instinct."
That work paid off when he finally got his chance against Tennessee. After spending most of his time at tackle, Batchelor switched to guard, and stepped in to help the Gamecocks put up their best offensive output of the season.
"I'm just happy to get the opportunity," he said. "I'll play whatever they want me to play. I'm just swapping in whenever coach tells me to go in. I'm not really on a certain string right now. I'm swapping back and forth between guard and tackle."
Batchelor was not taking any credit for the strong showing, though. Instead, he was one of a few players who said that reserve tight end Nick Prochak got the team pumped up with a halftime speech. Prochak is Batchelor's roommate, so Batchelor was excited to see him step up.
"I was proud of him," said Batchelor. "He stepped up, and he tried to get all the guys pepped up. I think he did a pretty good job at it. Leaders don't have to be starters. Leaders can be anybody that takes control of a situation where other people are lost and don't know what to think. He did a good job of stepping up there. I just don't think we played our game in the first half. in the second half we played more of our game, did what we were supposed to do, played our assignments better. That's why we looked better in the second half. I think the whole team played more as one in the second half. We did what we were supposed to do when we were supposed to do it, timed up pretty well. I think we played more like a good football team in the second half instead of a mediocre team in the first half."
- Defensive back Brandon Isaac did not practice as he continues to recover from a head injury suffered against Tennessee. He attended practice and is listed as questionable for this weekend's game.
- No other players missed practice.
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