Notes: Turning Jeffery, Gurley into double trouble

jperson@thestate.comOctober 26, 2009 

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South Carolina freshman wide receiver No. 81 Tori Gurley comes up with a one-handed catch in front of Vanderbilt cornerback No. 5 Myron Lewis for a 43-yard reception during the fourth quarter.

RICH GLICKSTEIN/RGLICKSTEIN@THESTATE.COM

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier thought the Gamecocks were running a play for freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery in the fourth quarter against Vanderbilt, only to look up from his play sheet and see Tori Gurley at Jeffery's spot.

USC fans soon might see both rangy receivers in the lineup at the same time.

Jeffery and Gurley play the 'X' position, which features a wide alignment and an assortment of fade, hitch and post routes. Gurley started five of the first six games before Jeffery replaced him following a big game against Kentucky.

But Spurrier said Sunday coaches are cross-training Jeffery and Gurley at the other receiving positions in the hopes of pairing them.

"We're trying to teach Tori a little bit of some other positions, as well as Alshon. I've always believed players should learn all the positions because one guy gets hurt or you want to get two in the game," Spurrier said. "That's something we're looking at and hopefully we'll have that ready to go here real soon."

Jeffery, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Calhoun County native, leads the Gamecocks with 24 catches for 443 yards and five touchdowns. The 6-5, 227-pound Gurley, a redshirt freshman from Rock Hill, is third on the team with 21 receptions for 318 yards and one touchdown.

Gurley had four touchdowns nullified by penalties in the first four games.

Injury report. Defensive end Cliff Matthews, who sustained a neck stinger in the final minutes against Vandy, will not participate in contact drills this week but is expected to play Saturday at Tennessee.

Receiver Moe Brown, held out against the Commodores after his concussion at Alabama, will be re-evaluated Tuesday or Wednesday, Spurrier said.

Spotty coverage. USC dropped from 11th to 12th in the SEC in kick coverage after Vandy freshman Warren Norman had a 99-yard return for a touchdown. The Gamecocks allowed a 100-yard return to Georgia's Brandon Boykin earlier this season.

"We've gotta shore up our kickoff coverage," Spurrier said. "That's pretty ridiculous to let the guy run about 100 yards right through us and nobody touched him."

Special teams coordinator Shane Beamer benched kicker Adam Yates after Norman's return in favor of Spencer Lanning, the starting punter and place-kicker.

On defense for a reason. USC defenders dropped a pair of interceptions against Vandy, including one that All-SEC linebacker Eric Norwood likely could have returned for a score.

"We're dropping too many interceptions right now. We've got to do some receiving drills with some of our guys," Spurrier said. "We're leaving some possible turnovers out there."

Norwood has two of the Gamecocks' five interceptions, which is tied with three other teams for the lowest total in the SEC.

Detour on I-40. USC fans driving to Knoxville this weekend better leave early. A section of I-40 west of Asheville near the North Carolina-Tennessee state line has been shut down after a weekend rockslide. It could be closed for months.

North Carolina transportation officials recommend the following detour. Take I-40 West to I-240 West in Asheville to I-26 West. Follow I-26 West from Asheville to I-81 South in Tennessee and back to I-40.

Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.

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