Practice report: Back spasm slows Shaw

Gamecocks yet to name a starting center for Saturday

dcloninger@thestate.comSeptember 25, 2013 

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw (14)

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

  • GAMECOCKS VS. KNIGHTS

    WHO: No. 12 USC (2-1) vs. Central Florida (3-0)

    WHEN: Sept. 28, Noon

    WHERE: Bright House Networks Stadium, Orlando

    TV: ABC

    RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 in the Columbia area (in-stadium frequencies in Orlando, 93.1 FM/primary and 93.9 FM/secondary).

    SATELLITE RADIO: Sirius 91/XM 91

    LINE: USC by 7

    WEATHER FORECAST: A 20 percent chance of showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 87. North northeast wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Connor Shaw walked out of practice midway through the session on Wednesday in the company of a trainer.

He headed toward the locker room at Williams-Brice Stadium, and did not return.

A USC sports information official said that Shaw had a back spasm, and the injury is not expected to be serious.

Center fielding questions

So who’s it going to be at center when South Carolina plays at UCF on Saturday – Cody Waldrop or Clayton Stadnik?

Shawn Elliott didn’t know. Not because he has a decision to make, per se, but what’s the point of naming a starter when there is still another day of practice?

Waldrop would be assumed to start if he’s 100 percent back from the sprained foot that derailed his early season, but that’s only an assumption.

“An automatic?” Elliott asked back. “I don’t think you use that term ever, do you? I don’t. Lot of things can happen.”

So could both play, like Steve Spurrier has said?

“I don’t know if there could be a rotation, but I think there’s an opportunity to ding a foot or something like that, and (Waldrop’s) got to get back in the swing of things,” Elliott said. “The fortunate thing is, we got two good centers that we can win with.”

Elliott said that he has not settled on a starter yet. Waldrop started Wednesday’s practice.

Impact player

All of the Gamecocks are ready to get back on the field, but one may want it more than most. Linebacker Cedrick Cooper, considered a rising star but someone who has been held back by injuries since he arrived at USC, is ready to play.

“I’m very eager, man,” Cooper said on Tuesday. “I’ve been sitting out way too long. Watching other players play, make plays, and I’m just sitting on the sideline? I’m being a good cheerleader, but I’m tired of cheering. I’m ready to play.”

Cooper has been limited by back and knee injuries, then a dislocated elbow suffered in the first few days of preseason camp. USC’s coaches think the world of him and see tremendous upside, but so far, he hasn’t been able to get on the field and stay there.

He can bring an immediate jolt of athleticism to a young linebacker corps, which has seen its struggles during the Gamecocks’ first three games. Cooper was quick to point out that USC’s defense is taking an “it’s OUR fault” motto rather than a specific position group, but also knows that him being back on the field doesn’t automatically fix everything.

“It’s me knowing the plays as well,” he said. “Not just waiting for the Mike to call the plays out and make the checks and stuff. If I know it myself, then his job is a lot easier. If we’re all on the same page, then I feel as if everything will be better.”

Legacy

Another factoid looked over with the tragic news of former USC coach Paul Dietzel’s death on Tuesday was how he relates to current coach Spurrier. Dietzel and Spurrier are the only coaches who have won championships in the ACC and SEC.

Dietzel won the SEC championship in 1958 and tied for it in 1961 at LSU, before coming to USC and winning the ACC title in 1969. Spurrier won six SEC titles at Florida, and won an ACC title at Duke in 1989.

Fashionistas

USC’s equipment Twitter feed announced on Wednesday that the Gamecocks will wear white jerseys and garnet pants on Saturday. Ever the superstitious folks, the Gamecocks are bypassing the all-white uniforms, which won at Clemson a year ago but lost at Georgia this year.

Injury report

Players who missed practice due to injury or were in yellow jerseys were: Shaw (back), Devin Washington (concussion) and Mike Matulis (shoulder).

Next up

The Gamecocks will practice at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday. It is closed to the public.

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