USC left tackle Jarriel King has a new position - but not the one many fans envisioned him.
King will make his first career start at guard Saturday at No. 2 Alabama. King will play on the left side next to Kyle Nunn, who will take King's tackle spot for the second time in three weeks.
The 6-foot-5, 312-pound King gives the Gamecocks a big body to pit against Terrence Cody, Alabama's 6-5, 354-pound nose guard, nicknamed "Mount Cody."
USC coach Steve Spurrier said the move was made to get the team's best players on the field. A number of armchair quarterbacks have suggested USC try King at defensive tackle, his position in junior college.
"(King) looks pretty good in there," Spurrier said Thursday. "You know, we've been going against the scout team all week. So hopefully he'll look pretty good when we go against those big guys from Alabama."
Spurrier said Cody is more than just a wide load.
"He's active, too, moves around," Spurrier said. "Usually those big guys like that, they play offense. He's a defensive tackle that can move around, so hopefully we can slow him down a little bit."
Time for a breather. Linebacker Eric Norwood does it all for USC, but Ellis Johnson wants the Outland Trophy candidate to do a little less. The Gamecocks' assistant head coach for defense hopes to play backup Tony Straughter occasionally against the Crimson Tide.
"Eric is playing too many snaps. He's covering punts. He's on the punt block team, playing every snap on dime and base," Johnson said. "I've got to find a way to rotate him a little bit, and Straughter, I hope, is going to give me a chance to do that."
Johnson said keeping the starters fresh will be critical against an Alabama offense that tries to wear defenses down with a physical rushing attack. Johnson said an assistant at Tennessee, which faces Alabama next week, told him more than half of the Tide's rushing yards have come after contact.
"We've got to be confident enough to rotate our backup players when they rotate their backup players," Johnson said. "Because if we get tired, we're not going to tackle."
Injury update. Backup receiver Dion LeCorn (leg) and reserve defensive end Byron McKnight (concussion) will not make the trip to Tuscaloosa. Spurrier said LeCorn needs a second surgery on his left leg, which he broke on the final play of the spring game in April.
"He can live with it, but it's something he's eventually going to need," Spurrier said. "But he can't run with the way it is now, so we're encouraging him to go ahead and get it done."
Arenas nears records. Alabama senior cornerback Javier Arenas is the SEC's leading punt returner (16.9-yard average) and is approaching the conference career record and the all-time NCAA mark held by Texas Tech's Wes Welker. USC special teams coordinator Shane Beamer said Alabama's defense gives Arenas a lot of chances by forcing opponents to punt.
"You're playing with fire on that one. Eventually he's going to get you," Beamer said of Arenas, who has six career returns for touchdowns. "He's really good and they do a good job blocking for him. We don't need to be punting to him 10 times Saturday night."
Extra points. Shaq Wilson will start at middle linebacker; Josh Dickerson, last week's starter, also will play. ... Johnson hopes to redshirt defensive end Chaz Sutton, although the freshman will travel this week because of McKnight's injury. ... Seldom-used tailback Eric Baker, who has two carries this year, is getting a look at receiver.