Many observers tabbed Jason Barnes as the USC receiver most likely to succeed Kenny McKinley as the Gamecocks’ go-to receiver this season. But if things stand as they are, Barnes will not be in the starting lineup Thursday at N.C. State.
Barnes dropped behind Tori Gurley about halfway through preseason drills, but said coaches never gave him a reason for his demotion.
“They don’t really explain too much around here,” Barnes said Saturday. “They just move you to second string. They don’t say too much.”
Barnes started nine games last year and finished with 27 catches for 346 yards and two touchdowns. He sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder about a week and a half ago, but said the injury has not affected his play.
“I really don’t know what happened. Y’all gotta ask coach what happened to me,” he said. “I really don’t know. I don’t have too many answers.”
Barnes, a junior from Charlotte, believes he should still “be the guy,” and is hoping he’ll get a chance to play against the Wolfpack.
“I pray every night that I’ll get to go play because it’d be bad for me to go from where I was to the sidelines.”
Defensive end Cliff Matthews returned to practice after missing three days last week with a virus and accompanying fever. After recording three sacks last year, the junior from Cheraw said his goal is 10 this season.
If that sounds like a big jump, Matthews said he increased his sack total from 12 to 24 his final season at Cheraw.
The news is not as good for the Gamecocks’ other starting defensive end. USC coach Steve Spurrier said Clifton Geathers “in all likelihood” would be suspended for the opener. Geathers, who was arrested last weekend following an incident at a Vista nightclub, was suspended indefinitely at the time of his arrest.
Spurrier said the eye injury Geathers sustained that night is not as bad as originally thought.
Kicker Adam Yates (groin) was back after missing more than a week. Spurrier said trainers told him receiver Dion LeCorn (leg) should be ready in “a couple weeks or so.”
Quote of the day
“I don’t really know what happened as far as him and all that other stuff that happened. I went home. We had a curfew. I tried to make it home by curfew. I don’t know too much about that,” – Chris Culliver on Geathers, who was part of a large group of players celebrating Culliver’s 21st birthday last week the night Geathers was arrested.
Extra points Two starters in USC’s secondary – North Carolinians Culliver and Alonzo Winfield – were considering N.C. State until Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato was fired in November 2006. … Spurrier confirmed reserve offensive lineman Kyle Nunn is suspended for the first three games for undisclosed reasons.
-- Joseph Person