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Spurrier says Beecher could start all season

Tommy Beecher apparently has a strong hold on the starting quarterback job.

The redshirt junior was anointed the surprise starter after spring practice, and he has since earned a little more praise from coach Steve Spurrier each day. On Sunday Beecher got a little more: Spurrier — known for a quick hook with his quarterbacks — is projecting stability with Beecher.

“I told him he’s going to have every opportunity to be the quarterback the entire year, you know barring injury or whatever,” Spurrier said. “It would take an awful lot of bad plays, which I don’t anticipate, to get him out of there. He’s the guy.”

Spurrier later compared Beecher’s build to two well-known quarterbacks: Missouri’s Chase Daniel, a Heisman Trophy candidate, and former Florida Heisman winner Danny Wuerffel, whom Spurrier coached. While Beecher is not expected to run as much as Daniel, the Gamecocks are hoping Beecher can equal Wuerffel in his decision-making.

“Great decision-makers don’t have to run very much, like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning,” Spurrier said. “Those guys usually throw it at the right place a very high percentage of times. ... (Beecher’s) very smart. He just needs experience.”

Cook’s injury. Tight end Jared Cook, who will be watched by NFL scouts this season, is spending the first few practices watching his teammates. The redshirt junior hurt his right big toe in Friday’s opening practice, but he said he should return to practice next week. A cast he’s wearing will come off Tuesday.

“They’re just trying to stabilize it and hope nothing else comes up,” Cook said.

Cook’s injury shouldn’t have many long-term effects on his playing time. And Spurrier said fellow tight end Weslye Saunders is in better shape than he was last season.

“I think me and Weslye are gonna be a big part of this offense this year,” Cook said. “They’ve got a lot of packages and things scheduled around the receivers and around us.”

No offense taken. Spurrier seemed OK with his team finishing two spots out of the top 25 in the preseason coaches poll.

“We didn’t finish very strong so we don’t deserve much,” he said. “We don’t deserve much at all right now. So we’ve got to earn it. Hopefully we’ll do it.”

Extra points. Spurrier said offensive lineman T.J. Johnson is one true freshman who could play this year. He reiterated that quarterbacks Aramis Hillary and Reid McCollum likely will redshirt.

Reach Emerson at (803) 771-8676.