USC works through light Saturday practice

The Gamecocks went through a "Monday" practice Saturday evening as they continued preparations for the season opener next Thursday against N.C. State. Steve Spurrier will hold his weekly preview press conference on Sunday, and the team will work through a harder practice Sunday and Monday evenings.

"We'll put pads on [Sunday] and Monday and bang heads a little bit and hopefully be ready to play," said Spurrier. "We're pretty close, but not quite ready yet."

Playing on Thursday night does more than just confuse simple-minded reporters about what day it is. It forces coaches and players to adjust their normal routine in order to prepare for the game. Fortunately, that problem is minimized for the Gamecocks because their two Thursday night games come in the first two weeks of the season, meaning they do not have to deal with a short week. It does mean the players will have to miss class, something Spurrier prefers to avoid, but accepts as a reality of collegiate athletics.

"It does take your guys out of school when you have a road game on a Thursday," he said. "When we play at home we miss maybe one class. You know what, those basketball teams, baseball teams, every other team here misses class for a game, so if football misses one morning I think the [university] presidents can live with that."

Carolina is running out of time to fine tune its play, and after almost a month of preparation, there is not much left to do on the practice field to find out if they are prepared.

"We won't know until [Thursday]," Spurrier said. "In practice we're staying onsides and not jumping off like we have a history of doing. We'll see if we can do it in the game, that's when it counts."

Redshirt freshman tackle Quintin Richardson, who has been in the running to start at left tackle against N.C. State, spent Saturday on the scout team. That almost certainly eliminates him from contention for the starting nod, but would also normally eliminate him from contributing much at all. Spurrier cautioned that the move was an indication of numbers, not future playing time.

"We have to send somebody over there," said Spurrier. "Don't read too much into that, he'll be suited up Thursday night and hopefully ready to play some. He's been playing a lot of right tackle too."

On the injury front, safety Darian Stewart continues to be plagued by a sore foot. He did some running Saturday, but was still wearing a yellow jersey and did not participate in practice. He will likely be a game-time decision.

"He's jogging around a bit," Spurrier reported. "We'll have to wait and see about Wednesday, it will be a late decision on him."

Spurrier reiterated that running back Mike Davis will be suspended for one game due to poor class attendance. Davis will be joined by two other players, who Spurrier declined to identify. The trio will be suspended for one of the "middle of the year" games, according to Spurrier.

Batchelor having a strong preseason

After earning the Steve Sisk Outstanding Blocking Award during the spring, sophomore right guard Heath Batchelor has carried his strong play over to the fall. He secured the starting job early in camp and has earned the reputation for being one of the more hard-nosed linemen on the team. Batchelor met with the media on Saturday and discussed how preseason practice has gone for him.

"It's going good," he said. "It ain't been too hot, because of the rain and stuff, so it's probably the easiest camp since I've been here."

The coaches have been very pleased with Batchelor's play so far this fall. In fact, the 6'7", 309 pound interior lineman has been held out of several preseason scrimmages because the coaches feel comfortable with his play and want him to avoid potential injury. Despite that, Batchelor has a lot of respect for Terrence Campbell, who has shown tremendous progress as the second team right guard, and insists that he's still fighting for the starting job.

"Everybody's still getting the same amount of reps [in practice]," said Batchelor. "We've got ones and twos, but I don't think it's set in stone yet."

More than any other unit, chemistry is important for the offensive line, and that works in Batchelor's favor. He feels very comfortable with the two men he will be lining up in between: Justin Sorensen and center Garrett Anderson.

"I played beside Sorensen the last three games last year," Batchelor explained. "I played beside him during the spring and this whole fall camp, so I know me and him are on the same page. I roomed with Garrett the first two years, so me and him are on the same page with a lot of stuff too."

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