Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore attended a team meeting Wednesday and still has a swollen lip from the vicious hit he took from Florida State’s Greg Reid in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31, Steve Spurrier said.
“He should be fine, though, ready to go,” Spurrier said.
Lattimore’s injury came when Reid hit Lattimore’s face mask, knocking it into Lattimore’s jaw, Spurrier said. Spurrier said the hit was clean and said his main concern was the fit of Lattimore’s helmet.
“We have to get him a better helmet. A lot of our players you see how easy their helmet pops off. That shouldn’t be happening,” Spurrier said. “Justice Cunningham, his pops off all the time. We are going to work on getting Marcus a better helmet that will stay on his head better. The pass he caught down the sideline (before the big hit), his helmet fell off on that play, too.”
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Spurrier expects wide receiver Tori Gurley to be USC’s only early entrant in the NFL draft, he indicated Friday.
“He’s the only one I think that decided to leave,” Spurrier said.
Underclassmen have until Saturday to declare for the draft. Spurrier said last month that “eight or nine” USC underclassmen had asked the NFL to analyze their draft potential.
Spurrier didn’t have much to update on his team’s four newcomers. Junior college transfer offensive lineman Kaleb Broome, prep school transfer defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, prep school transfer defensive back Brison Williams and true freshman athlete Martay Mattox all enrolled for this semester and are expected join the team for spring practice.
“Kaleb looks good in his street clothes, probably looks good in a uniform; now if he can block, that will be helpful because we need better blocking,” Spurrier said.
Room for more
USC’s four early enrollees will count against last year’s scholarship limits, which means the Gamecocks have room for six more in this year’s signing class, according to NCAA rules which state a school can sign 28 new players each February and bring in 25 newcomers each fall.
“So we’re going to sign 28 is our goal,” Spurrier said Friday. “We’re in the midst of we think an excellent recruiting year. There are four or five big names still out there, so we’ll find out if we’re going to have a great one or just a good one.”
Getting off the field
Florida State converted its final five third downs in beating South Carolina 26-17 in the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Seminoles, who converted one of their first nine third downs, converted four on their decisive touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Three of those were from 5 yards or longer.
“We’ve got to go back and review our third down defenses and how we’re approaching third down,” Spurrier said. “That was one area we weren’t that good this year. Very good on first down, second down and pretty good against the run most of the year.”
The Gamecocks allowed opponents to convert 40.4 of their third down attempts this season. In the SEC, only Georgia (41.9 percent) was worse.
Spurrier bemoaned the fact that his team was not more opportunistic in its loss to Florida State, and it’s not the first time this season he has touched on the subject.
“There were five fumbles in that game, three by them, two by us. FSU got all five of them,” Spurrier said. “It was sort of that kind of a game.”
Spurrier and some team members will be recognized at halftime of South Carolina’s basketball game against Kentucky on Jan. 22.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a couple trophies out there that we can show off,” he said. “We don’t get an opportunity to show off too much so we’re going to try to do that at halftime of the Kentucky game.”