Gamecocks go through wet Wednesday workout
The Gamecocks battled the elements for much of the night as a slight drizzle turned into a full steady rain during practice, but USC head coach Steve Spurrier said practicing in wet weather isn't always a bad thing.
"We had a rainy day, but had a decent practice," Spurrier said. "Sometimes I guess it's good to throw around some water-logged balls to teach our guys to catch them and hold on to them. Overall, a pretty decent practice."
Spurrier says starting quarterback Chris Smelley, who had a career day throwing for 327 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's win over Ole Miss, threw the ball "pretty well" Wednesday. Smelley's Saturday output earned him SEC Offensive player of the Week Honors. The redshirt sophomore signal-caller says it was a nice honor, but he has to keep working hard to get better.
"That was pretty cool and kind of surprising," Smelley said. "I wasn't expecting to get honored with any type of award or anything like that. So, yeah, (I've got to) take it and move on and hopefully get better this week."
Smelley's receivers, who also stepped up in Saturday's win, had a rough practice early, but recovered to have a solid night, according to Spurrier.
"The receivers dropped a few early," Spurrier said. "But hopefully learned how to use their belly and chest a little bit with their hands on a day like this."
That group of receivers received a huge shot in the arm Saturday when All-SEC performer and team leader Kenny McKinley returned to the line-up. With Moe Brown still playing well and Jason Barnes stepping up, the group turned in one of the best overall efforts of a South Carolina wide receiver group in recent memory.
Spurrier disregarded the suggestion that losing senior wide receiver Kenny McKinley helped the receiver corps in the long run.
"I don't think it's helped us a bit," Spurrier replied. "I wish he had played those two games, but it's history and we can't do anything about it. But he's very healthy now."
The offensive line, which is still a work in progress, had a solid game against Ole Miss, but is still not set personnel-wise at guard. Terrence Campbell made the start at right guard Saturday, but was spelled by Heath Batchelor, who played the entire second half. It appears this Saturday Campbell will make his fourth start in a row.
Spurrier says Batchelor, who was a bright spot at the end of last year, has been held back by multiple issues this year.
"He's just got some issues," Spurrier said. "I mean he's not playing super-duper, and he's got some going to class issues - little things like that. He played alright the other day, but nothing tremendously special. So we'll give T.C., Terrence Campbell, another chance to start and see if he can hold on."
On the injury front, safety Emanuel Cook and tight end Jared Cook both have slightly sprained ankles, but should be ready to go by Saturday.
Saturday's game against the Wildcats will kick off at 12:30 p.m.
Moe's Mentoring Pays Off
Gamecock fans may have witnessed the birth of a star Saturday when redshirt freshman wide receiver Jason Barnes grabbed seven balls for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including one game-changing grab on a jaw-bone-crushing hit that set the stage early for the Gamecocks' first SEC win in a year. Following that breakout performance, Barnes credited junior receiver Moe Brown for keeping him motivated and helping him get to that point.
Following Wednesday's practice, Brown was able to respond to that sentiment.
"I try to help coach up some of these young guys, you know, stay on them and try to make them better," Brown said with the smile that never seems to leave his face. "It's great to know that he actually appreciated it."
Brown, who had his own coming out party earlier this year against Georgia, was excited for his younger teammate on Saturday.
"I call them my little apprentices all the time," Brown said. "So I just told him good job on Saturday."
While many expected South Carolina's top-ranked 2007 wide receiver class to come in and make an immediate impact, Brown says that sometimes it takes players time to realize how hard they have to work to see the field in Spurrier's offense.
"You come from high school and you're the big stuff and sometimes (your high school) coach really doesn't ride you," Brown said. "Work ethic, I think is something you develop over a lifetime. When you don't have it, it's hard to develop. You have to have someone pushing, pushing, pushing. We've got Kenny working hard, and I try to work hard every day, and I think between the two of us they're starting to realize if you work it's going to pay off the in end."
Brown said at first some of the young receivers might not have known how to take his coaching, but now they realize he is just trying to help make them better.
"If they mess up, I try to grab them to the side and say, ‘you need to do this,' and at first they were just kind of like ‘yeah, yeah, yeah' and really didn't want to listen to what I was saying. But I think they've started to realize that I'm just trying to help make them better. And now they'll be like ‘alright I got you,' and the next time they'll do it right."
While it has taken the Gamecocks' receiving corps some time to develop into a cohesive unit, Coach Moe, as his teammates call him, says he never doubted it would happen.
"I've been saying since the beginning of the season that we were going to have receiving by committee," Brown said. "It might have taken a little bit longer for it to happen, but I think this is about the perfect time for it to happen, going into SEC play. And I think we're going to come on and finish pretty strong here."
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