– The sixth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks worked out at the Bluff Road practice fields on Thursday afternoon. The Gamecocks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) are wrapping up their preparations for Saturday’s SEC Eastern Division showdown with the No. 11/12 Georgia Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0 SEC). Game time is set for 4:30 p.m. ET from Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. with ESPN televising the game nationally.
“The kids have been focused and we’ve gotten good practices in,” said defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “I totally expect us to play well. We’ve got to stop the run. Last season was last season,” continued Ward. “We’ve got a different team. We’ve got to go out and prove ourselves again. You can’t build off what happened last year because you have different guys. They understand they have a tough task ahead.”
Not only do the Gamecocks need to stop one of the nation’s top running backs in Todd Gurley, who is bigger, stronger and faster than a year ago according to Ward, but also contain quarterback Aaron Murray to have success on Saturday. “We always want to affect the quarterback. As a defensive coordinator, you have to find out who’s running the engine of the train and of course Aaron Murray is. He makes this team go.”
Ward is confident in sophomore T.J. Gurley, who makes the start at safety in place of the injured Kadetrix Marcus. “We thought T.J. would win the job if he was 100 percent healthy (coming into fall camp) anyway, so we know he’s a good football player. I think he’ll fare well.”
Coach Ward indicated that Victor Hampton is getting healthier, but would not start on Saturday. Ahmad Christian is slated to make his first career start at cornerback. Hampton will also be relieved of his punt return duties. “He took a lot of hits and he understands. Even if he was healthy now he probably would have given up the role. Bruce (Ellington) will be the punt returner.”
The Gamecocks will practice on Friday afternoon before busing to Georgia.
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