After a poor defensive effort against Georgia, the last thing South Carolina needed to see was one of its most veteran defenders nursing an injury.
But there Victor Hampton was, off to the sidelines with a right ankle injury, and getting a ride back to the locker room on one of the carts on Tuesday.
Secondary coach Grady Brown didn’t seem too concerned about it, but did mention that Ahmad Christian, Rico McWilliams and Ronnie Martin have been put on alert that they’re one play from going in.
“(Hampton) practiced yesterday and practiced well, so I would hope he will be ready to play this weekend,” Brown said. “We’ll always look to get the four best players on the field at the same time in the secondary so, hopefully, we’ll get everybody healthy this weekend. The best players will play on Saturday.”
Moving the big man
Jadeveon Clowney mentioned after the Georgia game that he wanted to be placed somewhere on the field where he can make plays. He was frustrated watching offenses continually run plays to the side that he wasn’t on.
But it’s not that simple. It’s not just plays going away from Clowney that are causing USC’s problems.
“Getting defensive calls from the sideline into the game,” linebacker Kaiwan Lewis said on Tuesday. “Getting lined up was a problem. It was just some miscommunication.”
Lewis said there were issues getting the calls from the booth to the sideline to the players, and then getting lined up. The calls come to defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward, then he relays them to linebackers coach Kirk Botkin, who signals them in. Against hurry-up offenses, the signals weren’t getting in quickly enough.
Then there were the coverages in which USC seemed to be giving too much cushion to Georgia receivers.
“There were times when the formation dictated that we press, there were times when the formation dictates that we play off and sit down at the sticks,” Brown said. “I just didn’t do a good job of making sure that my guys understood the game plan, and therefore it showed in the way we played on Saturday.”
Whatever the reason, USC probably won’t be doing anything drastic to its defensive alignment on Saturday against Vanderbilt. It’s more about playing assignments.
“We haven’t talked anything about (moving Clowney),” defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles said. “We’re just going to go out there and play ball. There have been a lot of people saying a lot of things, but it’s not about proving people wrong. It’s about going out here with my team and fighting, and putting a show on for these fans, and showing people that this defensive line and this defense, this whole team, we’re no joke.
“When you play football, you have to come out here with intensity, you have to come out here with an attitude. Practice today, I feel like we came out here with the attitude.”
Ced the Enter-tackler
Linebacker Cedrick Cooper continues to wear a brace on his elbow but is fully practicing. He hopes to play on Saturday.
“I’m getting back to normal,” he said. “I feel that the brace I got now is helping me out. I don’t have a guaranteed answer. As long as I do my job, as long as I practice hard, make sure I got my assignments and stuff, there’s a possibility I’ll get back on the field.”
ESPN reported during USC’s loss to Georgia that Clowney had aggravated the same foot injury that kept him out of some action last year. It was something that hadn’t been mentioned during the week. Clowney said he did tweak it, but it was fine and that he played on it.
He fully practiced on Tuesday, and hasn’t missed any time because of it.
“You’ll have to ask him how it feels,” Spurrier said. “He’s the only one who can tell you how it feels. But he’s OK today.”
For a good cause
USC will wear special helmet decals and wristbands on Saturday in a promotion to help the non-profit organization Curing Kids Cancer. The Gamecocks’ coaching staff will wear special gold whistles on red lanyards during warm-ups, to “blow the whistle” on the disease.
Vanderbilt and Georgia also will help the organization this season. All money raised will be donated toward medical clinics in Columbia, Atlanta and Nashville. The organization was founded by Clay and Grainne Owen after their son, Killian, died at age 9 from leukemia. Clay is a 1982 graduate of USC.
Kadetrix “J.J.” Marcus is fully back at practice and could play on Saturday. If not, he’ll definitely be ready for the UCF game in two weeks. Cody Waldrop is going to see a foot specialist and is doubtful to play this week. Clayton Stadnik is ready to start again if Waldrop can’t play.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Hampton (ankle), Waldrop (foot), Devin Washington (concussion), Carlton Heard (hamstring) and Mike Matulis (shoulder).
The Gamecocks will practice at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday. It is closed to the public.