Stephen Garcia has a sore shoulder, but the injury has nothing to do with USC coach Steve Spurrier’s decision to start Chris Smelley at quarterback Saturday at Clemson.
After rotating Garcia and Smelley — nearly every play at times — against Arkansas and Florida, Spurrier said it became apparent Smelley had a better handle on the Gamecocks’ offense.
“(Garcia) needs to be a lot more knowledgeable of what’s going on out there. I mean, every play can’t be just a take-off-running, throw-it-somewhere play,” Spurrier said Sunday. “We’ve got to have some type of a plan. And right now he’s just not as prepared as hopefully he will be next year.”
Garcia, a redshirt freshman from Lutz, Fla., has a slightly higher passer efficiency rating than Smelley, who has thrown as many interceptions (11) as touchdowns.
Garcia received a painkiller injection in his throwing shoulder last week but was able to throw in the Gamecocks’ two practices during their open date.
But Spurrier is hoping Smelley, who is 9-4 as a starter, will go the distance at Death Valley.
“We’re going to try to get him excited to go play and let him play the game. Hopefully, he’ll start and finish the game,” he said. “I never liked the two-quarterback system, but at the time it just appeared the best thing to do. Really, it didn’t matter who we played, the chances of winning our last game at Florida probably weren’t very good.”
USC coaches will find out today whether a weekend of rest helped several defensive backs recover. Safety Akeem Auguste (hamstring) and cornerbacks Captain Munnerlyn (toe) and Carlos Thomas (knee) all are nursing injuries.
Spurrier is hopeful all will play against Clemson. “Those guys didn’t practice much last week, but they should be back,” he said.
Quote of the day
“We’re excited to be 7-4. I looked at the SEC standings and there are only three teams with a better than 7-4 record — Florida, Georgia and Alabama. If we’d lost to Florida four weeks ago like we did and won our last two, everybody would be pumped up. Sometimes timing is everything. We’ve had plenty of time to get that (56-6 loss to Florida) out of our system. We realize we can have an outstanding season if we finish strongly.”
Kenny McKinley, the SEC’s receptions leader among active players with 194, needs six catches to become the fifth player in conference history with 200 career grabs. The others: Vanderbilt’s Earl Bennett (236), Kentucky’s Craig Yeast (208), Georgia’s Terrence Edwards (204) and Kentucky’s Keith Edwards (200). ... A victory at Clemson would give the Gamecocks eight regular-season wins for the first time since 2001 and the eighth time in school history.
— Joseph Person