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Practice report: Spurrier holds tryouts on offense

News of the day It could be a motivational play to ensure his team prepares for Alabama-Birmingham (1-3) or a shake-up of a sputtering offense. Either way, USC coach Steve Spurrier is holding tryouts this week – and no one’s job is safe.

“We’re opening up all spots. If Larry Freeman has the best week at tight end, he’ll start this week. Some of those linemen, shoot, we’re not afraid to put anyone on the bench right now,” Spurrier said Monday. “I don’t know of anyone who’s played so well on offense that he deserves to say, ‘Hey I’m a starter.’ Have y’all seen any all-conference offensive performers out there?”

After a reporter suggested tight end Jared Cook (a team-high 17 catches for 246 yards), Spurrier mentioned a drop by Cook last week but conceded the redshirt junior has played well.

Spurrier is looking for more effort from an offense ranked next to last in the SEC in rushing (113.3 yards a game) and scoring (20.3 ppg).

“I’m tired of watching the way we play. Everybody’s tired of watching the way we play. We just keep going along with it. Same guys just keep playing and playing,” he said. “If we have to play a whole bunch of freshmen and walk-ons, I will do it.”

Right guard Terrence Campbell said Spurrier told the team he would evaluate practice videos and announce any new starters Thursday.

Stock rising C.C. Whitlock and Chris Hail are hoping a change of scenery is beneficial. Whitlock, a freshman receiver, is moving to defensive back, while Hail is going from the secondary to receiver. Whitlock had 38 tackles and four interceptions last year as a defensive back at Chester High.

Stock falling Linebacker Rodney Paulk, a returning starter, has been reduced to a special teams player with the return of Jasper Brinkley from injury and the move of Eric Norwood to linebacker. Now Paulk (left knee) is hurt and could be a candidate for a medical redshirt.

Injury report Receiver Kenny McKinley, who has missed two games with a hamstring injury, is “very, very doubtful” for UAB, Spurrier said.

Quote of the day “He looked OK. He needs to make better decisions on where to throw it all the time, but so does Chris Smelley,” – Spurrier on quarterback Stephen Garcia, who split first-team reps with Smelley.

Extra points Spurrier said Hail is suspended this week for missing class. He will sit along with three starters – tailback Mike Davis, right guard Heath Batchelor and defensive end Jordin Lindsey, whose suspensions were announced previously. …

USC’s game at Mississippi on Oct. 4 will kick off at 2 p.m. The SEC’s TV partners passed on the game, but USC officials are seeking permission from Mississippi to do a pay-per-view broadcast.

--Joseph Person