USC gears up for open scrimmage on Wednesday

It was cooler Tuesday night, but that did not slow down the Gamecocks, who had what one witness called a "spirited" practice, though Steve Spurrier disagreed with that analysis. The players worked in full pads, and there was some shoving during the session. Practice ended a few minutes early so the team could run, but it was not a repeat of the day Spurrier chased the team from the field.

"We had a so-so practice," was Spurrier's analysis. "We got a lot of snaps in and so forth. A couple of guys started pushing and jawing so we actually cut it short and ran a little extra tonight, but nothing serious. Every now and then it happens; one guy shoves and another guy shoves, then they take up for each other. It wasn't anything, no fisticuffs or anything like that. It's just too much jawing and shoving so we cut it short a little bit."

All in all, Spurrier was pleased enough with what he saw from the team heading into Wednesday night's scrimmage. Indeed, the biggest threat to the scrimmage appears to be the weather. It is supposed to rain all day Wednesday, which would seem to rule out the scrimmage. Spurrier remained defiant on Tuesday night, saying he expects the rain to clear out in time for the scrimmage.

"About 8:00 we'll scrimmage in the stadium, open to all Gamecocks," he said. "Hopefully we'll get a few people in the stands tomorrow. We'll let most of the young guys play again, guys that haven't played much."

Once again, starting quarterback Tommy Beecher and backup Chris Smelley will take most of the snaps in the scrimmage. Third-stringer Stephen Garcia remains sidelined with an ankle injury, which means the trio of walk-on Zac Brindise and freshmen Aramis Hillary and Reid McCollum could get some snaps.

"Chris and Tommy will play, maybe Zac Brindise," Spurrier said. "Shoot, he knows more about [the offense] than Reid and Aramis right now."

Running back Mike Davis continues to be sidelined with a sore shoulder, but the injury looks like it may have been a blessing in disguise. Davis is the only running back on the roster with much playing experience. His absence has allowed backups Brian Maddox, Eric Baker, Bobby Wallace, and Taylor Rank the chance to earn Spurrier's confidence, and all have responded.

"Brian Maddox has done well, and Bobby Wallace made some nice little runs in there," said Spurrier. "We've got plenty of running backs."

There was some action on the offensive line, including a position switch and injury, although both are minor. Tackle Hutch Eckerson, who has practiced at left tackle, spent the evening at right tackle. The move is not permanent, according to Spurrier. Instead, it was made to get Eckerson experience on the other side of the line. The move could be particularly short-lived if the injury to left tackle Jarriel King causes him to miss much time, which appears unlikely. King suffered a minor hamstring injury late in Tuesday's practice, but he is not expected to miss any practice time.

Hall taking precautions with rehabilitated knee

Senior defensive tackle Marque Hall is a key part of the Gamecocks' rotation on the defensive front. Thus, it could be cause for concern to see Hall sporting a yellow no-contact jersey. However, Hall is being held out of practice for precautionary reasons only, as he continues to recover from a knee injury suffered two years ago. While fellow lineman Nathan Pepper has recovered from a similar injury in less than a year, Hall has to be much more careful with his knee.

"I might have rushed it a little bit, but I don't regret playing last season," Hall said on Tuesday. "It just wasn't my time to come back, but I thought it was."

The strain of fall camp has proven to be too much for Hall's knee to handle, which led to the yellow jersey. The setback is not any cause for concern, though, and Hall chalked it up to a learning experience.

"With the heat and everything, it's just a little too much, too soon," Hall said. "I'm just trying to take it one day at a time. I'll be ready come game day."

Fluid had built up in his knee as a result of all the work, and had to be drained in a minor procedure Hall underwent Monday. He is optimistic that the procedure was a one-time thing, and he will be fully recovered soon.

"It's got a little swelling in it," he said. "I just got it drained yesterday. It's doing a lot better now, I should be back in a couple of days."

When he comes back, Hall still has to be careful. Fortunately, the trainers and coaches are all on the same page, and certain arrangements will be made to make sure Hall is ready to play.

"He's like Andy Boyd," said Spurrier, comparing Hall to the former tight end who, due to injury, seemed like he had been at Carolina since the Brad Scott era. [Boyd] couldn't do all this running, and we probably had Marque do a little too much. Guys with bad knees, they can't do the same conditioning as the other guys. We've got to do a better job getting him ready for Saturdays and Thursdays."

Given all Hall has been through, he is especially excited to see Pepper able to return as quickly as he has. As Pepper clowned around behind them, Hall told reporters about how he has mentored Pepper in his recovery. Even though Pepper jokingly mocked Hall's advice, Hall did not hide his pleasure at seeing Pepper return.

"I'm very proud of him, coming back so soon and doing as well as he's doing," Hall said.


- Two players donned new numbers Tuesday night. Defensive lineman Melvin Ingram wore number 50, and cornerback Mike Newton sported number 35.

- Running back Taylor Rank missed practice after taking a hit to the head and experiencing "dizziness."

- Spurrier continued to be vague about the nature of quarterback Stephen Garcia's ankle injury. "He can almost walk now, as you can see," said Spurrier, adding that the injury was "according to the trainer."

- The Gamecocks will have their second of four two-a-days Wednesday. The first practice will be at 8:30 in the morning. The evening session will start at 7:30 and move to Williams-Brice Stadium at 8:00 for the scrimmage.

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