Gamecocks turn attention to UGA

The Gamecocks returned to the practice fields on Monday night for the first time since last Thursday's disheartening loss to Vanderbilt. A pair of wide receivers missed the practice, while a pair of quarterbacks prepared to play against Georgia on Saturday. Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley shared the reps in Monday's workout, but were without Kenny McKinley and Moe Brown.


McKinley suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter against the Commodores. He was not limping noticeably after practice, but as of Monday he is unlikely to play against the Bulldogs.

"We didn't expect him to do anything," said Steve Spurrier. "If he makes any progress it will be later in the week. He's very doubtful [to play]."

Brown sat out practice with a knee sprain, but his return should come much more quickly.

"He'll practice tomorrow," said Spurrier. "He'll be all right."

Beecher and Smelley split the first team reps in practice, and Beecher appears to be fully healed from his shoulder injury. Spurrier did not go into much detail about how the rotation would be handled, but said that both quarterbacks would play against Georgia.

Whichever quarterback is on the field should have some extra help compared to the first two games. Senior offensive lineman Jamon Meredith returns from a two game suspension. Where Meredith returns, though, remains a question. He started most of the last two seasons at left tackle, but spent much of the spring and fall working at left guard as well. Newcomer Jarriel King struggled against Vanderbilt, but has shown potential at left tackle, which could allow Meredith to move inside and replace Lemuel Jeanpierre.

"Jamon played a little tackle and guard [tonight]," Spurrier said. "We'll wait until later in the week to see where we'll place him."

In addition to Meredith, the Gamecocks could get fullback and special teams ace Yvan Banag back this week. Banag, a native of France, has been out due to immigration issues. He has been working to get his student visa restored, and that could happen as early as this week.

"He's supposed to maybe get his papers in order this week," Spurrier said. "We'll have to wait and see. If he gets his papers in order [he can play]."

Brinkley still adjusting to new scheme

Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley was a preseason all-conference selection last year, but a knee injury derailed his season. He entered the 2008 season with similar expectations and was expected to be an impact defender for new coordinator Ellis Johnson. Instead, Brinkley has a grand total of 3 tackles through the first two games, and failed to register a solo stop against Vanderbilt. Speaking to reporters after practice Monday, Brinkley admitted that adapting to Johnson's scheme has not been as easy as he expected.

"I'm still adjusting," he said. "After playing in the 4-3 for so many years, the 4-2-5 is very different. I think it's just a matter of getting comfortable. In the 4-3, the middle linebacker runs inside out to the ball, versus the 4-2-5 the middle linebacker is boxing the ball in [trying to keep runners on the inside]."

The loss to Vanderbilt has some fans ready to jump off a ledge, but Brinkley urges some perspective.

"It's one of those things you've got to get over," he said. "We can't dwell on it because we've got Georgia. It's very hard, especially when you lose to a division opponent."

He also points to next week's opponent as inspiration for the remainder of the season. The Bulldogs lost two of their first six games last fall, including a week two loss to the Gamecocks, but rebounded to win seven straight and finish the season #2 in the nation.

"We beat Georgia last year, and they went the rest of the year [with one loss]," said Brinkley. "There's still hope."

Asked to pinpoint exactly why Carolina lost, Brinkley had a limited focus. He did not talk about coaching or execution, but talked instead about desire and focus late in the game. In particular, he mentioned the two third down penalties that gave the Commodores automatic first downs.

"It was a lot of missed tackles," said Brinkley. "We started losing our cool after the penalties. It's very emotional. When you get a bad call or feel like you got a bad call, you're going to let it be known.


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