Spurrier encouraged by Sunday workout

For the first time this preseason, the Gamecocks held a practice that didn't take place either inside Williams-Brice Stadium or at the Proving Grounds practice fields. Instead, the inclement weather forced the team to make use of USC's indoor practice facility, known as "The Bubble," for a workout on Sunday evening. According to Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks responded well to the new conditions.


"We went indoors for about two hours," Spurrier said following Sunday's workout. "It always seems to pick the guys spirits up a little bit when we go indoors. We got some good work done. A lot of handing the ball off, blocking, stuff like that. Hopefully we made a little progress tonight."

Starting quarterback Stephen Garcia's continued improvement over the preseason is considered by many to be one of the key factors that will determine how much success the Gamecocks have this year, and Spurrier believes the young gunslinger continued down the right track on Sunday evening.

"Stephen (Garcia) actually looked pretty good throwing (tonight)," Spurrier said, cautious not to pump up his quarterback too much. "We're believing he's much more ready to play."

The Gamecock wide receivers did their part in helping out Garcia, as Spurrier noted that the wideouts hauled in some passes they might have dropped in previous practices.

"The catching was a lot better (in the passing game) too," said the fifth-year head coach.

Turning his attention to the running game, Spurrier stated the team emphasized the ground game in Sunday's practice, and he expressed cautious optimism that the Gamecocks will be able to run the ball well in Thursday's opener against N.C. State.

"We mainly worked on the running game, run defense, and so forth," Spurrier stated. "We hope all of our running backs get some holes and run well... We'll find out Thursday night how it all looks."

Spurrier again pointed out the talent on N.C. State's defensive line, reiterating that it could be the best defensive front in the ACC.

"Some think (the N.C. State) defensive line could be the best in the ACC. They're quick, active, and strong. They beat our guys up pretty good last year."


Clements happy to be back on offense

Matt Clements acted quickly to prove to the offensive coaches last week that he belonged on the offensive side of the ball after spending a short stint working at cornerback. In his first two practices back at wide receiver, Clements played well enough to garner high praise from Coach Steve Spurrier and seems to be back in the thick of the group that is competing for playing time.

"I glad that I'm back on offense now," Clements said after Sunday's practice. "I hope (the move back to offense) is a permanent one. I love playing wide receiver. They didn't really go into detail about moving me back to offense, Coach (Spurrier) just came up to me after one practice last week and said they needed me back on offense."

Clements is currently working with the second team offense in all of USC's offensive formations, and he says that with the talent USC possesses at the wide receiver position it could be tough make his way to the top of the depth chart. Still, he vowed that he will continue to work hard and that he is always looking for ways to improve.

"We've got a lot of players (at receiver). Everybody out there is good and they all have great potential. If you work hard, know what to do on each play, and can show the coaches that you can make some plays then you'll get some playing time. Hopefully I can do all that and get out on the field to help the team."


King: Offensive line trying to make confidence contagious

One of the most intriguing matchups of the season opener will be the South Carolina offensive line against N.C. State's defensive line, and starting offensive tackle Jarriel King says the Gamecock big men are well aware that the spotlight will be on them on Thursday evening.

"It's the opening game of the season, and we know that everyone will be paying attention to (the offensive line) to see what we're made of. We're getting ready though. We had a really good practice today and look forward to having more practices like today so that hopefully we can continue to get better before Thursday."

With the Gamecocks finishing at or near the bottom of the conference in rushing over the past few seasons, it would seem that confidence in the run blocking by the offensive line would be hard to come by, but King claims that's not the case.

"We're a lot more confident about our run blocking this year. I think we have done a good job slowing down and learning our assignments better rather than running through it really fast and missing something. That's when we looked like chickens running around with our heads cut off last year."

Continued progression and taking a confident attitude towards getting the job done is something the offensive line has made a priority this year, according to King.

"We try to make our confidence contagious and to keep building up that confidence practice after practice and hopefully game after game as the season gets going."

King says that playing against several of the Gamecocks' defensive stars on a daily basis has helped both he and the offensive line prepare for the talented linemen that they'll face against N.C. State.

"I've got to give credit to our defense. They come hard every play during practice. It's not easy going up against Cliff (Matthews) and Eric (Norwood). Cliff never gets tired, and just when he starts to slow down a little bit, I'll have to deal with Norwood coming off the end on a blitz. I can't wait to go up against some other guys," King proclaimed with a laugh.

The Wolfpack defensive line is led by senior Willie Young, a first team ACC selection at defensive end. The other starters on N.C. State's defensive front are also very experienced, as N.C. State projects to start four seniors come Thursday evening.


Notes:

- Redshirt freshman tight end Mike Triglia is doubtful for Thursday's game after sustaining a sprained neck injury in Saturday's practice.

- Spurrier stated that Jason Barnes and D.L. Moore are battling for the third starting wide receiver position. Moe Brown and Tori Gurley are already entrenched as starters.

- Spurrier noted that "four or five receivers should play quite a bit" in the opener.

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