Same song, second verse, although the words are becoming a little more clear once they’re listened to on repeat.
South Carolina starting tight end Rory “Busta” Anderson is most likely out for Thursday’s game against North Carolina, coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday. The hamstring injury that has limited the junior for most of preseason camp hasn’t healed enough for him to be considered a starter. He might note even be on the dress list.
As for top returning receiver Bruce Ellington, also nursing a hamstring injury, Spurrier reiterated what he’s been saying since it happened — “maybe.”
“Busta’s out, probably,” Spurrier said. “Bruce is questionable, that’d probably be the word. He’s going to try to run around (Wednesday). Looks like Busta’s not going to make it back.”
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The Gamecocks’ fleet of receivers will at least have the depth to handle a limited or missing Ellington, but not the experience. Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones will be counted on to lead the group, and players such as Shaq Roland, Shamier Jeffery and K.J. Brent, who have been on the team but have yet to produce, will get their chances.
At tight end, backup Jerell Adams has been practicing but is hobbled by a recovering sprained ankle. Spurrier said that he should be able to play a bit, but he is still gimpy. That would clear third-stringer Drew Owens to make his collegiate debut after redshirting in 2011 and sitting out 2012 because of a knee injury.
“We should be ready to play,” Spurrier said. “Drew and some of the running backs (but) we still drop way too many passes out here.”
Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward likes how the defense has practiced — this week, and for all of preseason camp. The group has mostly stayed injury-free, with the notable exception of linebacker Cedrick Cooper. His dislocated left elbow will keep him out of Thursday’s game, but he could return to practice by Saturday.
“I think we’ve had three good practices so far this week, four, really,” Ward said. “Assignment-wise, especially in the starting group, we’ve been on point.”
Ward’s collection of baby linebackers will start sophomore Kaiwan Lewis in the middle and redshirt sophomore Marcquis Roberts at the weakside. Ward is prepared to do whatever it takes — leave them in to learn, or yank them in favor of the next guy if they’re not playing well, although it will also be up to position coach Kirk Botkin.
“He knows what we expect on defense, he knows what we want,” Ward said. “If someone’s hurting us, we’ll get them out, if they’re not hurting us, then they’ll stay in and play.”
Fifth-year senior defensive end Chaz Sutton is expected to have a monster season, finally getting a chance to start, and in a perfect situation. When teams line up and prepare to stop Jadeveon Clowney, the popular theory says that Sutton can clean up by being ignored.
“I think he’s going to thrive in that role, and I think he’s looking forward to it,” Ward said. “I think that’s why he’s in great shape, and he understands what we’re doing, so the practice time that he did take off didn’t hurt him. We joke a lot on the D-line about him having fresh legs, because he missed about two weeks of practice, but Chaz, I fully expect him to have a great ballgame.”
They call it the switch
Several Gamecocks have changed jersey numbers.
Darius English has switched to No. 5 (he was 8). Pharoh Cooper has switched to 13 (was No. 11). Lewis has switched to No. 8 (was 22). Austin Hails has switched to No. 15 (was 16). Kelvin Rainey has switched to No. 16 (was 15). Jody Fuller has switched to No. 19 (was 12). Mohamed Camara has switched to No. 31 (was 32). Larenz Bryant has switched to No. 32 (was 23). Kwinton Smith has switched to No. 82 (was 9). Matthew Harvey has switched to No. 84 (was 82).
Garnet on game day
As USC’s official equipment Twitter feed said earlier on Tuesday, the Gamecocks will wear all-garnet uniforms on Thursday.
Players who did not practice or wore yellow jerseys were: Devin Washington (concussion), Carlton Heard (hamstring), James King (foot), Gerald Turner (ankle), Kyle Morini (dislocated left elbow), Ellington (hamstring), Anderson (hamstring), Cooper (dislocated left elbow), Mike Matulis (shoulder) and Cody Gibson (sprained right knee).
The Gamecocks will have a walk-through on Wednesday. It is closed to the public.