Practice report: Extra hype comes with big game

Matulis questionable for Saturday's contest

jkendall@thestate.comOctober 2, 2012 

  • GAMECOCKS VS. BULLDOGS WHO: USC (5-0, 3-0 SEC) vs. Georgia (5-0, 3-0) WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91 LINE: USC by 2

-- Live chat with Josh Kendall, 1 p.m. Thursday

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Byron Jerideau has decided to embrace the hype.

“Some people don’t want to let it get to them, but me personally, I am excited,” the Gamecocks’ senior defensive tackle said.

No. 6 South Carolina, 5-0 for the first time under coach Steve Spurrier, welcomes No. 5 Georgia into Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday for what could be the biggest game in the venue’s history. Never before have two teams ranked so highly met in Columbia, and it’s happened once before in school history (when No. 2 Miami beat No. 8 South Carolina at Miami).

“It’s exciting, a top 10 battle,” Jerideau said. “The atmosphere is going to be wild at Williams-Brice.”

Spurrier won’t tell his players to ignore the magnitude of the game but will try to maintain a business as usual approach, he said Tuesday. The Gamecock coaching staff was “too nice” to the team last week, leading to Saturday’s uninspiring first half against Kentucky, Spurrier said.

“That was a good wake-up call,” Spurrier said. “That was a wake-up for us coaches, too. Coaches, we can’t be nice to them. We can’t be too nice. We’ve got to be scared to death every time we go to the ballpark, and we’ve got to make them realize that we can get beat by anybody.”

ESPN’s College GameDay program will broadcast live from the Horseshoe prior to Saturday’s game.

“The bigness of the game will naturally get the players maybe a little bit more emotionally up,” Spurrier said. “The guys know the importance of the game so it adds a little bit more on its own. I just really believe as coaches you have pretty much the same routine no matter who you play.”

Matulis questionable

Sophomore offensive tackle Mike Matulis, South Carolina’s preferred starter on the right side, still is bothered by the shoulder injury that kept him out of the Kentucky game, Spurrier said. Matulis missed spring practice after having surgery to repair a labrum injury and aggravated this injury prior to the Kentucky game.

“I think he just sort of sprained it a little bit, but he should be fine,” Spurrier said. “We hope Matulis will be back.”

Freshman Brandon Shell started in Matulis’ place against the Wildcats. Sophomore Corey Robinson started at left tackle.

“We’re still not as good as we should be, as far as assignments,” Spurrier said. “Guys going the wrong ways so, hopefully, we can get our assignments a lot better. These guys are big, strong guys. They should be able to play very well. We haven’t hit our peak yet in the offensive line. Still working at it.”

The Gamecocks are ninth in the SEC in rushing (171.8 yards per game) and have given up 13 sacks, the second-highest total in the conference.

Old friend

Lee Corso, who expressed doubt Spurrier could win the SEC while at South Carolina when Spurrier was hired, will be part of ESPN’s College GameDay crew, and Spurrier urged Gamecock fans to be nice to Corso on his visit.

“Lee Corso really likes us,” Spurrier said. “He made a statement eight years ago that we’d never win the SEC. So far he’s right. We haven’t won it yet. But I really believe Lee Corso likes us a lot, likes South Carolina a lot. Hopefully, our fans will not boo him. He is a good guy. He really is.”

No more pain

After seeing his first action of the season, senior cornerback Akeem Auguste is feeling no pain in the groin muscle that kept him out of the team’s first four games.

“My leg feels great,” Auguste said. “I am just blessed to be out here, playing with my teammates.”

Auguste had four tackles, and one personal foul penalty, in his return to action. He entered fall camp as a projected starter but has been supplanted by Jimmy Legree.

“I am just doing whatever it takes to help the team right now,” Auguste said. “When I start feeling like I can play a whole game, then I guess I’ll start thinking about” competing for the starting job.

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