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Gamecocks Aug. 2 practice report

Defensive end Byron McKnight works in drills during USC football practice Saturday evening.
Defensive end Byron McKnight works in drills during USC football practice Saturday evening.

The South Carolina football team held a slightly abbreviated practice Saturday night, stopping a few minutes earlier than planned because of an impending thunderstorm.

Before the lightning, the leading skill position players showed their wares:

- Quarterback Tommy Beecher and receiver Kenny McKinley hooked up on a couple long passes, and another sideline pattern that McKinley hauled in nicely. Coach Steve Spurrier made a point of praising McKinley after practice.

"We had to take Kenny out; I said he's catching too many passes. We're not throwing to anybody else," Spurrier said.

- Tailback Mike Davis also drew raves from Spurrier, who said the senior starter is "quicker than he's ever been." The coach added that the whole running back group - also naming Eric Baker and Brian Maddox - have looked good, and had an "excellent" summer of training.

The next two quarterbacks on the depth chart haven't impressed much. Chris Smelley missed on a few passes Saturday night, with one short pass over the middle picked off by Carlos Thomas. Meanwhile, Spurrier, unprompted, mentioned that Stephen "Garcia's still throwing a lot of errant balls."

On the injury front, tight end Jared Cook sat out after spraining his right big toe in Friday's practice. He's expected to miss at least another day or two of practice.

Receiver Matt Clements pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury. That doesn't help the redshirt freshman, who's very much in Spurrier's doghouse.

"He's struggling out there anyways," Spurrier said of Clements' injury.

The Gamecocks return to practice Sunday night at 7:30, which is also open to the public. Before that the team has media day, scheduled to start at about 3:30.

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