USC coach Steve Spurrier is introducing a new gameday tradition at Williams-Brice Stadium that will take place in the shadow of the Cockaboose Railroad a couple of hours before the fog-filled, player entrance to “2001.”
Following in the foot paths of a number of SEC schools, including Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi, USC will do a “Gamecock Walk” around 5:45 p.m. Thursday before the N.C. State opener.
Fans are encouraged to line up in the parking lot on the southwest side of the stadium to greet players during the 30- to 40-yard walk from the team buses to the locker room entrance.
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“If our players want to high-five the fans and give ‘em a fist bump or something like that, we’re going to do it,” Spurrier said Tuesday. “Seems like every school in the nation’s doing that now and we’ve not done it. We’re going to start doing that.
“I think our players need to know the importance of playing football for the University of South Carolina. And our fans are the ones that have demonstrated how important it is.”
The Gamecocks could have another former receiver starting on defense. Larry Freeman, who had two catches for 30 yards in 11 games last season, will start at Spur linebacker if the injured Darian Stewart can’t go.
It might be a little harsh to put Heath Batchelor in this category. But Spurrier said the right guard had a few mental errors this week that need to be corrected.
Stewart (left foot) will suit up Thursday and “go as long as he can,” according to Spurrier. Freeman is currently scheduled to start, Spurrier added.
N.C. State starting tailback Jamelle Eugene is out with an ankle injury, Wolfpack coach Tom O’Brien told reporters Tuesday. Eugene led the ‘Pack with 667 rushing yards and was second with 42 receptions last season. Andre Brown, who has 1,772 career rushing yards, will replace Eugene.
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“State will come in here all fired up. They’re ready to play. Everyone wants to kick an SEC team. So we’re anticipating a tough, physical game,” - Spurrier
Reserve tailback Brian Maddox, who was overtaken by Taylor Rank on the depth chart, was hurt by a couple of fumbles in practice, Spurrier said on his radio call-in show Tuesday. Maddox began preseason drills as the No. 2 tailback. ... LT Hutch Eckerson's father, Todd, was a three-year letterman at N.C. State from 1979-81. Eckerson will start Thursday, but junior college transfer Jarriel King also will play. ... As many as nine receivers will dress for USC, although a couple are expected to see only special teams duty.
-- Joseph Person