South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wants Stephen Garcia to stay grounded this week.
He was talking about Garcia's feet, not his head.
After Garcia struggled at times during the Gamecocks' 20-6 loss at No. 2 Alabama, Spurrier is looking for a better performance against Vanderbilt from a quarterback who ranks third in the SEC in passing and total offense, but eighth in passing efficiency.
"Hopefully, we'll play better. Hopefully, Stephen Garcia will put his feet in the ground when he throws this week and play with confidence," Spurrier said Thursday. "We've got to get him playing with more confidence than the other night. But he's had pretty good practices, so we'll see what happens."
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Garcia completed 20 of 46 passes for 214 yards against the Crimson Tide. His first pass was intercepted by Mark Barron and returned 77 yards for a touchdown. Garcia also overthrew Jason Barnes on what appeared to be a certain touchdown, and was sacked five times.
No one in the SEC has attempted more passes than Garcia (224), and only Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Georgia's Joe Cox have thrown for more yardage.
Garcia has taken nearly every snap for the Gamecocks. Backup Reid McCollum has played in just two games, completing 4 of 6 passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.
But Spurrier expressed confidence in McCollum's ability if Garcia were injured.
"Reid is doing a little bit better," he said. "Reid's a beautiful passer when he takes his steps and throws it right. So he's coming around."
No stretching required
Freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery was late for Thursday's practice after attending a funeral. But the former Calhoun County star wasted no time getting loose.
"I tell you what, he was running around pretty doggone fast for a guy that didn't go through warm-ups," Spurrier said. "I told some of the guys, maybe we ought to let him skip warm-ups and just show up at 7 o'clock here Saturday night 'cause he was moving pretty well when he got here."
Jeffery is the Gamecocks' fourth-leading receiver with 16 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns.
Tight end Weslye Saunders returned Thursday after aggravating a left ankle injury earlier in the week. Spurrier said freshman Justice Cunningham would start, but Saunders should play.
"Weslye's somewhat healthy. He'll suit up. He's not starting, but he should be a lot better by Saturday night," Spurrier said. "He'll probably play some. I don't think he can go the distance, but he's expected to play."
Long snapper Charles Turner is questionable after sustaining a slight concussion. If Turner is held out, walk-on Matthew Grooms will handle the snaps. Grooms is a 26-year-old who served in Iraq with the Marines.
A win Saturday would give Spurrier 105 conference victories as an SEC coach, tying him Vince Dooley for third all-time. Only Bear Bryant (159) and John Vaught (106) have won more. ...
Offensive lineman Quintin Richardson returned to practice after attending a funeral for his great-grandmother Wednesday. ... The Gamecocks are 13-0 against Vandy when scoring at least 20 points, and 1-3 otherwise.