It’s very hard for any coach to tell any player to slow down. Football players are supposed to play with intensity, frenetic energy and hustle on every down.
The yellow jersey around Victor Hampton’s neck on Tuesday may have told him that more clearly than any coach ever could.
Sixth-ranked South Carolina’s starting cornerback, punt returner and secondary captain missed Tuesday’s practice with unspecified injuries. Secondary coach Grady Brown left them unspecific because Hampton was, plainly, beaten up against North Carolina.
“I think it’s a bunch of things, to be honest with you. He played really, really hard last Thursday,” Brown said. “He put it all on the line for his team from a physical standpoint. That’s what happens when you’re a smaller guy -- you play a lot of plays and get banged up a little bit.”
Hampton took a hard hit on a kick return and was woozy during the win over UNC. He returned to the game.
Brown was hopeful that Hampton would be OK. If not, backup Ahmad Christian played well against the Tar Heels and would be ready. Hampton was also listed as the starting punt returner on Tuesday, with Bruce Ellington his backup.
“We’re going to ease him back into things, hopefully we’ll get him ready for this weekend,” Brown said. “But if not, the pleasant surprise, which is Ahmad, is in position to go out and play well for us this weekend.”
The good news was that Ellington is full-go for Georgia, and that tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson is recovering and could play on Saturday.
Yet USC could be facing another key absence when it travels to Athens, Ga.
Center Cody Waldrop sprained his foot against UNC and has not practiced this week. Waldrop had his foot in a walking boot and was on crutches on Tuesday. If he can’t practice Wednesday or Thursday, USC will have to go with backup Clayton Stadnik.
Stadnik and Waldrop entered spring practice on the same ground, as redshirt freshmen, but Waldrop quickly progressed and was given the great majority of the first-team snaps. Offensive line coach Shawn Elliott praised Waldrop’s ability throughout the spring and summer. While he played well against the Tar Heels, he may not be able to stand on his injured wheel against the Bulldogs.
Stadnik didn’t play against UNC, so if he plays against Georgia, it would be his first collegiate action. Listed behind Stadnik on this week’s depth chart is true freshman Alan Knott.
“Cody is one injury that is a wait-and-see,” coach Steve Spurrier said on Tuesday. “I think Wednesday or Thursday they’re going to try to let him do a little bit and hopefully by Saturday, he’ll be OK.”
Cedrick Cooper is practicing after missing time with a dislocated elbow. Linebackers coach Kirk Botkin said that if Cooper plays on Saturday, it will be sparingly.
After the first week of college football, several names were thrown on the watch list for the Heisman Trophy. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Georgia’s Todd Gurley all kicked off their prospective Heisman campaigns.
As a Heisman winner (1966), Spurrier was asked when the hype around him started. He pointed out that like many things, it was way different back then.
“We didn't play on television back in those days,” Spurrier said. “It probably started because we were 7-0 starting out, that's probably why I won the thing, to tell you the truth. And they voted early, because we lost a couple after that.”
An offense, plus one
Spurrier popped into USC’s media room after his press conference and announced that his youngest son, Scott Spurrier, and his wife Jen had just welcomed their first child into the world. Charlotte Mae Spurrier was delivered on Tuesday morning.
Scott Spurrier is a graduate assistant at USC. Charlotte is Steve Spurrier’s 12th grandchild.
USC will wear all-white uniforms on Saturday. The Gamecocks last wore them in last year’s 27-17 win over Clemson.
Players who were in yellow or who did not practice were: Hampton, Waldrop (sprained foot), Kadetrix Marcus (shoulder), Devin Washington (concussion), Carlton Heard (hamstring), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated left elbow), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
USC will practice at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday. It is closed to the public.