Gamecocks released for Christmas holiday

After a string of eight straight practice days, the Gamecocks are taking a break for Christmas. Coach Steve Spurrier spoke after a short workout in Williams-Brice on a chilly Wednesday morning, updating the Gamecock Nation on his players as many head home for the Christmas holiday.

"Merry Christmas to all the Gamecocks out there, and we'll see you in Birmingham at the bowl game," said Spurrier. "(We) appreciate our people, our fans buying all of our allotment, 10,000 and plus. I understand we've sold a lot more than that. We're going to try our best to play our best game of the year in Birmingham against a very good UConn team. So we'll see you there."

After giving up a special teams touchdown against Clemson in their last game, the Carolina unit will have to be on high alert against the Huskies, who have already returned three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns this year. Even more impressive is the fact that all four returns for TD's were by four different players. Spurrier said his team will have to make opportunities for themselves on special teams, as well as stop UConn at the same time.

"They have run three back by three different players, how's that? Their coach (Randy Edsall) has already mentioned, we need to score on special teams to help win the game. Hopefully someday we can have that attitude around here that we can score on special teams. For us to be a really, really good team we've got to score some on special teams, (and) score some on defense."

Although Spurrier said his team has made strides in practice, he noted Wednesday that quarterback Stephen Garcia still needs to work on throwing the ball away in certain situations.

"Well, that's up to him how much he wants to know how everybody's going, he struggled a little bit out here in the two minute drill taking sacks," noted Spurrier. "We take too many sacks, and that's up to the quarterback to get rid of the ball. Sometimes you can't help it, but when you hesitate back there and take a sack, it's not real smart. So we've got some work to do, and Stephen hopefully will have his mind real sharp for the game."

With players heading home all over the southeast and around the country for the next couple of days, Spurrier said his message to the team was one of safety over the break.

"We always tell the guys to try to be safe, don't get in the car with anybody that's been drinking, be careful on the highways," added Spurrier. "Every time you get in a car it could potentially be the last day of your life, we all know that. We try to warn our guys the best we can and go from there. That's always the message during holiday break."


- The Gamecocks received bowl gifts Wednesday. Spurrier said they can get up to $800 worth of gifts as well as travel money.

- Offensive lineman Jarriel King sprained his ankle in practice on Tuesday, but he is expected to be fine for the bowl game.

- Defensive lineman Nathan Pepper had a cast on his hand because of a broken finger, but should be fine for the game.

- The team will practice in Columbia next Monday and Tuesday before leaving on Tuesday afternoon for Birmingham. Spurrier said the team will reconvene Sunday night for a normal week of practice after Christmas.

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