USC moves on without Wolf, starts bowl prep

Coach Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks were back on the practice fields Tuesday night, beginning preparations for the Papajohns.com Bowl against Connecticut on January 2nd. Although Spurrier and the team were excited to be back on the field after the break for final exams, a feeling of anxiety hung over the team after the sudden departure of offensive line coach Eric Wolford.


"Eric Wolford told me today he's taking the Youngstown State head job," said Spurrier. "So we wish Eric well. I've already got a list of possible o-line coaches. But we're looking forward to practicing and trying to get better as a team here the next seven or eight days."

Although Spurrier said that he was happy about Wolford getting the chance to be a head coach, he questioned the timing of his move, since he only spent one year at Carolina. Many Gamecock fans were scratching their heads as well on Monday, with an improved line and several high profile offensive line recruits on the way.

"He told me officially today that he (was going) to take the head job there," added Spurrier. "So if it's a good decision, time will tell. I didn't think it was the right decision for him right now, but we all have choices to make and that's what he wanted to do. He wanted to go back to his hometown and be a head coach, so we're moving on."

As everyone has heard before, college coaching is a business, and coaches moving is part of that business. Still, the loss of Wolford has the potential to impact the Gamecocks into the future, depending on the stance of his recruits.

"That's part of college coaching, assistant coaches moving around," said Spurrier. "But I thought he'd be here longer than one, but he got a head coaching opportunity, and that's what he wanted."

However, after a long layoff following the Clemson game, the Gamecocks were excited just to be practicing again.

"(It was) our first practice today. Guys were a little sluggish; we threw the ball around as if we hadn't practiced in two weeks. We need to really play well. But we're looking forward to it, we're looking forward to going to Birmingham, and playing in the PapaJohn's bowl."


Norwood named AP All-American

For the first time in twenty-five years, a Gamecock has been named as a first team All-American. Linebacker Eric Norwood received the honor as the team was announced on Tuesday.

"It's crazy; it's definitely a great feeling," said Norwood after Tuesday's practice. "Right now I can celebrate it a little bit, but not too much, and just come back out here tomorrow and get ready to work."

Norwood said that he is ready to practice again, and that the team will be working very hard to prepare itself to face the Huskies after the New Year. Even with postseason accolades, Norwood assured Gamecock fans he still has more work to do before his career at USC is over.

"We hit. We got back in football motion, just got everything back rocking again, go ahead and get ready for UConn. Oh yeah it definitely (felt good to get back out.)"


Beamer helping to bridge the gap between Wolford and recruits

With Wolford already assembling one of the top offensive line recruiting classes in the country, many fans worried that the negative response to Wolford leaving would be a string of decommitments from players he had recruited. However, after learning of his departure, USC recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer was immediately at work to help give the Gamecocks stability with incoming players.

"I hope not, and what I told those guys is you should pick a school because of the school, because of the head coach, and because of the direction of the program," claimed Beamer. "You shouldn't pick a school based on a coach, and I would've told those guys that before (Wolford) left, after (he) left, whatever."

Even with other coaching staffs perhaps trying to capitalize on Carolina's loss, Beamer said that he is confident USC will be able to hold onto their guys. According to him, there are no surprises in the recruiting world, but he remains optimistic about the group the Gamecocks have coming in.

"We don't anticipate anything coming up, but you never know," said Beamer. "It's a long time until signing day and a lot can happen. Not just with these offensive line commits, but with any of these guys. Nothing surprises you anymore, but we've got a good solid group of commitments, and high character guys that are recruiting each other. We'll get it done."


Notes:

- Graduate assistant and former USC tight end Andy Boyd will be coaching the offensive line through the bowl game, according to Spurrier.

- Spurrier said it is "nice to get an extension, not that big of a deal." He said it is always nice to be operating under a four year contract, for stability in recruiting.

- Running back Kenny Miles was wearing a yellow jersey at practice Tuesday night while recovering from a concussion suffered in the Clemson game.

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