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Practice report: Spurrier on being ranked

Saluda High defensive tackle and USC target Dexter Wideman (78) at the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Saluda High defensive tackle and USC target Dexter Wideman (78) at the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

News of the day

South Carolina debuted in the national rankings Tuesday, coming in at No. 24 in both the coaches and media polls.

USC is tied with Illinois in the Associated Press poll, and is one spot ahead of the Fighting Illini in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

Told the Gamecocks were 24th, Steve Spurrier said: “That’s better than not being ranked, I guess. We’re just trying to play our best against Vandy this week. Try to improve from last week’s performance.”

USC was ranked for eight weeks last season, peaking at No. 6 in the AP poll before losing to Vanderbilt 17-6 at home. The Gamecocks dropped out of the rankings following a 48-36 loss at Arkansas on Nov. 3.

“It’s good to be ranked. I think the sports information guys keep up with that,” Spurrier added. “So we’d like to stay there if we could. Stay there all year.”

Stock rising

Left tackle Jarriel King. A few eyebrows were raised when Spurrier said the Georgia Military defensive lineman would play on the offensive line. A month later, King is starting at arguably the most important position on the line.

Stock falling

Receiver C.C. Whitlock has hit the freshman learning curve. The Chester native had a couple of strong scrimmages but is not assured of playing vs. the Commodores.

Injury report

Tommy Beecher (sprained left shoulder) will hold for kicks Thursday, but is doubtful to play at quarterback. Defensive end Clifton Geathers (thigh bruise) is probable; backup tight end Nick Prochak (knee) is out.

Extra points

Spurrier said USC would go with a limited offensive package if backup quarterback Stephen Garcia gets in the game. … Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said starting tackle Nate Pepper could line up at end in USC’s three-man front.

Quote of the day

“I watched the Florida basketball team and the Tennessee girls, they’re almost halfcourt scrimmaging and they’re playing that night. I said maybe in football we ought to break a sweat, run around a little bit. We did that week. We’re going to do it again and see if it helps us play better,” - Spurrier, from his call-in show, on game-day walk-throughs.

Scouting report

Vanderbilt is 0-7 in games televised by the flagship ESPN station. The last time ESPN’s flagship crew visited Vandy’s Nashville campus was 1999 - a 19-17 Commodore loss to Kentucky.

-- Joseph Person

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