David Cloninger

Amid newsy week, Gamecocks still have a game to play

South Carolina football's Mike Matulis said Tuesday’s first practice under Shawn Elliott went smoothly.
South Carolina football's Mike Matulis said Tuesday’s first practice under Shawn Elliott went smoothly. dmclemore@thestate.com

Lost in the shuffle of Tuesday was that South Carolina still has a game on Saturday.

Vanderbilt is a tough defensive team, also searching for its first SEC win. The Commodores aren’t going to lay up because the Gamecocks lost their coach this week.

USC’s fluttering offense has to try and get better against a team only allowing 18.4 points per game. The defense has to try and slow down tailback Ralph Webb and receiver Trent Sherfield.

“They do a lot of shifting and motion so we’ve got to do a good job of getting lined up, and hopefully we get lined up and stop what they do,” co-defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “I think they do a good job of scheming you. When they shift players and shift formations and get you where you’re not lined up correctly.”

Shawn Elliott’s elevation to head coach and G.A. Mangus’ move to primary play-caller could affect how the Gamecocks play. Brandon Wilds, Lorenzo Nunez and Connor Mitch each practiced Tuesday and may be able to help.

Elliott stressed that it’s a clean slate. The talent won’t get that much better, but perhaps Steve Spurrier’s announcement gives the Gamecocks a spark.

“Today was one of the smoothest practices we’ve had in a while,” offensive tackle Mike Matulis said. “I really, really enjoyed it out here today.”

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