Vanderbilt’s offense is ranked ninth in the SEC in scoring (33 points per game) and 10th in total yards (318 yards per game), but Ellis Johnson is plenty concerned heading into Saturday’s game.
“They are doing a lot better job with formations. There are a lot of things where your players have to be really alert,” said Johnson, South Carolina’s assistant head coach for defense. “They are finding a way to get the ball down the field in the throwing game and get their breakaway runs by unorthodox formations.”
The Gamecocks, who play the Commodores on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium, missed almost an hour of practice after Wednesday’s practice was rained out. But they made up for it Thursday, Johnson said.
The Commodores “are doing a good job of making you aware of everybody,” he said. “I don’t think they have really a go-to guy. The thing they are doing right now is they are spreading it around and they are doing things that can get you out of place.”
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Wide receiver Jason Barnes won’t play against Vanderbilt due to a hamstring injury. Nick Jones will take Barnes’ starting spot. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles will return this week from the concussion that kept him out of the Navy game, Johnson said.
Cornerback Akeem Auguste did not practice this week and will not play against the Commodores, Johnson said. He could redshirt this season, coach Steve Spurrier said on his Thursday evening call-in show.
Freshman Brison Williams, thought to be lost for the season due to a broken arm in the preseason, returned to practice this week. He won’t play this week, but Johnson is hopeful he will be on the field this season.
“I don’t know what the timetable is on him, but the sooner the better,” Johnson said.
Sticking with QB
Marcus Lattimore is not worried about quarterback Stephen Garcia’s inconsistent play through three games. Garcia has completed 55 percent of his passes this season. He has three interceptions and two touchdown passes and averaging 152 yards per game.
“I just feel like it’s going to come around if he just is patient,” Lattimore said. “It came around last year around Alabama, he started hitting perfect passes. It’s going to come around.”
During his weekly Tuesday news conference, Spurrier declined to discuss Garcia’s play.
“I am going to keep coaching him, just like we’re coaching everybody around here,” he said. “We’re going to be tough on them during the week. During the games, I don’t think I’ve been screaming and yelling at him during the games when he has a boo-boo play. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to try to be encouraging all through the games and try to coach the heck out of him during the week.”
... South Carolina has not started 4-0 under Spurrier. It will move to 4-0 with a win against Vanderbilt.
... Spurrier has beaten the Commodores 16 times. Kentucky (17 wins) is the only team he has beaten more.
... Garcia would notch his 20th win with a victory against Vanderbilt, tying him with Steve Tanneyhill for second on the school’s all-time list.