USC Gamecocks Football

Knights getting Gamecocks' full attention

There wasn’t anything new to say, so Steve Spurrier continued to say what he did last week. Twelfth-ranked South Carolina has played decent in its first three games, but it’s going to take a lot more than decent to keep winning.

“Hopefully, our guys are rested up a little bit and ready to get back, ready to prepare for Central Florida,” Spurrier said during his Sunday teleconference. “Outstanding team that’s 3-0. We’ve got to go down there and play better than we’ve been playing. Teams should improve as the season progresses, and hopefully we’re going to be one of them that improves and does not go backwards.”

The Gamecocks didn’t do too much of specific UCF preparation during last week’s abbreviated practice sessions, preferring to get into that this week. The full gameplan for the Knights will be issued to the team during Monday’s practice.

The areas that are drawing the most concern are special teams and defense. While the defensive struggles were somewhat expected, and are hopeful to get better with the return of linebacker Cedrick Cooper, special teams needs work.

“We’re not returning any punts or kickoffs very well,” Spurrier said. “We keep working at it. You can’t take it out of the end zone 5 yards deep.”

Spurrier reiterated that he may tell all of the returners to take a knee if they catch a kick in the end zone.

Bruce Ellington is slated to start at kickoff return while Victor Hampton will be back on punt return. Freshman Pharoh Cooper also could be an option at punt returner.

UCF falls into the realm of the usual non-conference opponent for USC. With Clemson always taking one of the four spots and the Gamecocks wanting to play another instate school every season (Coastal Carolina this year), chances are slim for USC to find other “name” opponents. But the Gamecocks landed North Carolina and UCF this year.

“I watch these teams play Austin Peay and Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M,” Spurrier said. “UCF is an excellent team. They went up and beat Penn State. They may be a little tougher team than you should schedule, actually.”

Jadeveon Clowney and Chaz Sutton, each fighting foot injuries that may last throughout the year, should play Saturday. Cooper also is set to return, along with Kelcy Quarles, who was limited in a couple of practices with a sprained neck.

Center Cody Waldrop has been out of his walking boot and off crutches for the past few days, but USC has been mum on if he’ll re-assume his starting role over Clayton Stadnik. Stadnik won SEC offensive lineman of the week honors after the Vanderbilt game.

This week, there be no looking ahead to a return home and a return to conference play.

“I know (the Knights are) going to be very emotionally charged for the game, with the national TV, ABC coming in and so forth,” Spurrier said. “Plus, they’re 3-0, and I guess it’s a sellout there, correct? They’ll be ready to play, there’s no question about that.”

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