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Practice report: Spurrier unsure about QBs

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After saying initially quarterback Stephen Garcia likely would start at Mississippi — including in a story on his Web site, spurrierhbc.com — USC coach Steve Spurrier backed off Monday.

“Stephen Garcia really struggled after about the first drive or two (against Alabama-Birmingham),” Spurrier said. “He got to where he was just running out of (the pocket) all the time last week. I don’t know if he’s quite ready to play.”

Garcia rushed for a game-high 86 yards on 18 carries, more than half of which were scrambles. Spurrier said Chris Smelley, who improved to 6-4 as a starter, was “unlucky” on several of his throws against the Blazers.

Spurrier will announce a starter Thursday.

Stock rising

USC has the top-ranked defense in the country, allowing 221.4 yards per game under first-year coordinator Ellis Johnson. Spurrier could not remember any of his Florida defenses holding the top spot nationally. “Ellis and his guys have done a super job,” he said. “We’ve got a heck of a defense here, and now we’ve got to get the offense up to speed.”

Stock falling

None of the Gamecocks’ three tight ends — Jared Cook, Larry Freeman and Weslye Saunders — graded out a winner against UAB. After struggling to block the Blazers, the tight ends must contend this week with Rebels DE Greg Hardy, an All-SEC pick last year when he led the conference with 10 sacks.

Quote of the day

“When your team’s the homecoming game, they don’t respect you very well. I don’t care what you say, those people when they circle those games for homecoming, they’re circling wins. ... I’ll make sure to pass that along. They made us homecoming queen.”

— special teams coordinator Ray Rychleski on this week’s game.

Extra points

This week’s game will be televised on pay-per-view throughout South Carolina; the Oct. 11 game at Kentucky will kick off at 12:30 p.m. with a regional broadcast on Raycom. ... Kicker Ryan Succop was named the SEC’s special teams player of the week after hitting a career-high four field goals against UAB. Succop is the first USC player honored by the conference this year. ... Spurrier was not the coach who voted for Duke in this week’s coaches poll. Spurrier, who was encouraged to stop putting his former school on his preseason ballot, said first-year Blue Devils coach David Cutcliffe sent him a note saying he hoped Duke could earn a top-25 ranking. ... A pair of former USC quarterbacks will hook up this week when Tennessee-Martin, led by Cade Thompson, takes on Tennessee State and Antonio Heffner.

— Joseph Person

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