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Practice report: Hunt avoids fan forum chatter

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All the armchair experts criticizing John Hunt this week in Internet chat rooms should take note: South Carolina’s offensive line coach is not reading the screeds.

“My wife gets in there every now and then and I tell her to quit,” Hunt said Wednesday. “I really try not to because it just pulls away from your focus during the week. And the focus is the next opponent, the next practice, your players and working to get better, and I generally don’t read up on anything like that.”

Instead, Hunt is looking for ways to improve a pass protection scheme that has allowed 30 sacks, more than any team in the country. Hunt said offensive coaches have discussed using running backs to chip defenders, something Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier has not done at USC or Florida because it takes the backs out of the pass routes.

But with right guard Heath Batchelor suspended for at least another week and left guard Jamon Meredith questionable for the Tennessee game with a sprained left ankle, Hunt said using the backs as extra blockers might be beneficial.

“They’re just struggling a little bit up front right now,” Hunt said, “so (the backs) might have to help out a little bit these next four games.”

Stock rising

Freshman tailback Kenny Miles. Though Miles likely will keep his redshirt, the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder worked with the first team Wednesday because of injuries. “He looks good. He can run with the ball,” Spurrier said. “Probably not up to speed on the pass protections, but he knows enough if he has to play. I feel comfortable with Kenny out there.”

Stock falling

Starting quarterbacks. For the second day in a row, Spurrier mentioned the possibility walk-on Zac Brindise might start vs. Tennessee because Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley both play better coming off the bench. Whether Spurrier is seriously considering that option or using it as a motivational ploy might not be clear until next week, though most observers suspect the latter.

Injury report

There were four tailbacks in yellow jerseys. Starter Mike Davis was the latest back added to the injured list after the senior had fluid drained off his left knee. Spurrier said Davis should play vs. the Vols.

According to Spurrier, freshman tailback Eric Baker is still having headaches after taking a shot to the head on his only carry against LSU. Baker is questionable for next week.

Quote of the day

“Garcia was hurt. He acted like he didn’t want to play today, so we held him out. ... Garcia’s shoulder was bothering him, or head - something was bothering him. So he didn’t do that much today.” - Spurrier

- Joseph Person

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