Even before Internet message boards began blowing up Thursday with reports that Logan Gray would start at quarterback for Georgia on Saturday, South Carolina’s defensive coaches had been preparing to face multiple quarterbacks in Athens.
Ellis Johnson, the Gamecocks’ assistant head coach for defense, followed the conflicting online reports, which culminated with an announcement from Georgia that Joe Cox would remain the starter. Gray and freshman defensive back Branden Smith also took snaps at quarterback last week in the Bulldogs’ 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State.
Johnson said Gray presents different challenges than Cox, who reportedly is dealing with shoulder issues.
“We saw (Gray) last week run a couple little special plays,” Johnson said. “The thing about Logan is you’ve still got to play your total package. He can throw it or run it. I think we’ll see him. And we’ve been kind of worrying about that and running some things that we were concerned about.”
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Cox completed 15 of 30 passes for 162 yards and one touchdown last week, but had two turnovers while battling a virus.
USC coach Steve Spurrier shrugged off the speculation about Cox and Gray.
“I got a lot more to worry about than who’s going to play quarterback at Georgia,” he said. Open it up. The Gamecocks have changed their offensive game plan this week, but will stick with the same play-calling process.
Spurrier said receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. again will be the principal play-caller, with an occasional assist from his father. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus and offensive line coach Eric Wolford helped devise the game plan, but Spurrier Jr. will call most of the shots from the press box.
“Right now he’s been the principal guy and I may try to help out,” Spurrier said. “If we’re struggling, then I try to help out. I tried to help out last week, and we still struggled at times.”
USC finished with 256 yards in a 7-3 win at N.C. State. Its lone scoring drive covered 14 yards and was set up by a Wolfpack fumble.
“We got sort of conservative last week. But, again, we may not be able to throw 35, 40 passes. We may be stupid sending our quarterback back to throw,” Spurrier said. “You call a game to try to win.”
Another linebacker injured. Less than a week after middle linebacker Rodney Paulk went down with a season-ending knee injury, backup linebacker Reggie Bowens strained a knee ligament and is out for the Georgia game.
Bowens, a redshirt freshman from Holly Springs, N.C., did not play last week at N.C. State. But Johnson said the injury affects USC’s linebacker depth.
Meanwhile, Paulk said this week he cannot appeal to the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility until the end of next season. Paulk, a redshirt junior from Columbia, said he plans to play “until the wheels fall off.”
Extra points. Other than Shaq Wilson stepping in for Paulk, there are no expected changes in USC’s starting lineup. Spurrier said Terrence Campbell remains the starter at left guard. Alonzo Winfield is the No. 1 spur, although Johnson said Antonio Allen also will play. … Defensive end Chaz Sutton returned after missing Wednesday with the flu. … Backup tailback Kenny Miles has changed jersey numbers, going from No. 31 to 19, so he and Gerrod Sinclair, who wears 31, can play special teams together.