Stephen Garcia, Connor Shaw, Jarvis Giles, Marty Markett, Toquavius Gilchrist and Dion LeCorn spoke…
LeCorn moves to defense
Ward said the decision was all LeCorn's.
"There was a lot of receivers in front of him because he was out injured for a little while, so he felt the best chance to get onto the field and play was to move to defense and try to help us," Ward said.
Depth on the defensive side of the ball was a huge problem for the Gamecocks in last week's 41-13 victory over Southern Miss, forcing the Gamecocks to rely on 15-16 players to play all the meaningful minutes. The Gamecocks were without starters Chris Culliver, Shaq Wilson, and Antonio Allen. Wilson and Allen were out due to injury and Culliver was out because of an ongoing NCAA investigation. Ward believes tomorrow will answer questions about the status of Wilson and Allen.
"Tomorrow will be the tell-tale day for Antonio Allen and Shaq to see if they're ready to play," Ward said. "They ran good from what I understand from the trainers today, so we'll see how far they progress and whether they practice tomorrow."
One of the focal points of the USC defense in Saturday's game will be redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray of Georgia. Murray will be making his first start on the road in front of a hostile environment inside Williams-Brice Stadium. It will be important for the Gamecocks to try and get to Murray and force him to make mistakes.
"It's extremely important for us to get to him as much as possible," senior defensive end Cliff Matthews said. "If we play like we're capable of playing, I think we can get to him."
Though he didn't see a lot of the Georgia-ULL game, junior free safety Akeem Auguste was impressed by Murray's legs.
"I saw he likes to run," Auguste said. "He's a little Connor Shaw-type quarterback. I saw him make some throws, but he's still a freshman in my eyes and has a lot to prove. We'll see if he can prove it to one of the best secondaries in the nation."
Auguste, who's status for the Southern Miss game wasn't clear until about an hour from kick-off, says it's just great to go into game-week knowing he's going to be in the line-up Saturday afternoon.
"I'm a lot more enthusiastic KNOWING I'm gonna play so it's a big relief off my shoulders," Auguste said.
Ward says that despite Murray's ability to run, the secondary still needs to be prepared for him to throw the ball while scrambling.
"He's real athletic," Ward said of Murray. "He can make a lot of plays with his feet. They're trying to keep it simple for him, but he's kind of dangerous with scrambling and getting out of the pocket and making big plays. Their receivers do a good job of moving around when he does scramble."
One of Murray's key targets will be A.J. Green if eligible. Green, a junior receiver from Summerville, is one of the best receivers in the nation. He led the Bulldog receivers against Carolina last year with 6 catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Green did not play last week and may not play this week, but Ward and the defense is preparing as if Green will be on the field Saturday afternoon.
"We're going to prepare for them as if he was going to play," Ward said. "Our game plan won't change whether he plays or not so we're preparing for A.J. to be out there playing against us."
Sophomore cornerback Stephon Gilmore knows how good Green is and he's looking forward to the challenge. "I'm looking forward to playing against him," Gilmore said. "He's a big time receiver and I'm gonna be ready to see what he's got."
The USC-Georgia rivalry is always key to each team's season. In most seasons, the winner goes on to have a big year while the loser struggles just to have a decent season. Gamecock players know how big it is and is looking forward to the challenge. Georgia native Chaz Sutton is looking forward to going up against his home-state team and knows it will be a big win should the Gamecocks defeat the Dawgs.
"It will be a big accomplishment for the team, the coaches, the school," Sutton said. "Everybody wants to beat the Dawgs and that's our mission right now."
Gilmore is not only looking forward to the Dawgs because it's a rivalry game, but also because it is usually the first SEC game of the season for both teams.
"This is an East team and first SEC team we play this year so we're looking forward to it," Gilmore said. "We just gotta take it one day at a time and play our hardest."
Matthews knows it will all come down to one thing: which team wants it more.
"This is a rival game so this is going to be a little bit bigger game for us," Matthews said. "Whatever team plays the best will win. All I know is that we're gonna come ready to play Saturday."
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