Gamecocks starting to look at Golden Eagles

The South Carolina football team continued practice this afternoon at the "Proving Grounds" in preparation for next Thursday night's season opener against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

The Gamecock defense will be challenged with stopping a fast-paced offense that put up a lot of points in 2009. The Eagle offense averaged 33 points per game last season and averaged just over 416 yards per game.

The Eagles surpassed the 40 point mark four times, including a season-high 52 points in the season opener against Alcorn State.

Gamecock SPUR Damario Jeffery says the defense is ready for the challenge.

"We're starting to study a lot of film." Jeffery said. "We're not quite there yet, but we're getting ready for them. We just got to get used to that fast tempo. We can pretty much line up against anyone and play, but we just got to get used to that fast tempo."

One of the biggest challenges will be containing Eagle receiver DeAndre Brown. Brown, who started in just 3 of the 11 games he played in, still led the receivers in every statistical category. Brown had 47 catches for 785 yards and 9 TD's last season, including a 95-yard score.

Gamecock defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said the 6'6 junior has made a lot of secondaries look foolish while comparing him to a current Gamecock.

"He's made big plays on a lot of folks." Johnson said. "He looks a lot like Alshon (Jeffery) and they claim he's even faster. He'll be a threat every time we line up."

Two South Carolina defenders who will play a big part in trying to slow the big receiver were not at practice Tuesday as Akeem Auguste and C.C. Whitlock were still dealing with issues related to the Whitney Hotel.

"I guess so," Johnson said when asked if the players would be back at practice Wednesday. "We were told they had some things to get straightened out right now. I don't know really any of the details."

Johnson also spoke of the possible emergence of sophomore's Byron Jerideau and Kenny Davis after slow starts.

"Kenny was probably one of the most pleasant surprises in the last scrimmage." Johnson said. "Byron's made steady improvements along the way. In the first couple scrimmages they were both very disappointing with the way they fought through the heat and the effort. They've been very pleasant surprises the last two scrimmages. Byron's still learning and getting comfortable with all the knowledge, but he's getting better. Hopefully Kenny's was not a flash in the pan because I thought he had one of the best days of anybody."

Johnson was asked if the season started tomorrow would he go strictly with the 3-man rotation of Travian Robertson, Ladi Ajiboye and Melvin Ingram or would Davis or Jerideau get an opportunity to play. Johnson was quick to answer with a yes.

"We'd definitely play them." Johnson said of Davis and Jerideau. "How many reps I don't know, but I think Brad (Lawing) would play them."

The Gamecocks will return to the practice fields at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.

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