Practice report: Juniors weigh Senior Day with NFL decisions to make

dcloninger@thestate.comNovember 26, 2013 

Kelcy Quarles before South Carolina's game against Florida on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, at Williams-Brice Stadium.

DWAYNE MCLEMORE — dmclemore@thestate.com

Jadeveon Clowney will have company when he participates in South Carolina’s Senior Day activities as a draft-eligible junior before Saturday’s game hosting No. 6 Clemson.

How much remains to be seen.

Junior cornerback Victor Hampton confirmed he will be honored at Senior Day with Clowney and USC’s five-man class of seniors, but junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles may not be. Quarles’ father, Buddy Quarles, told The State on Nov. 6 that his son would enter the NFL Draft after this season, but Quarles said on Tuesday that he wasn’t so sure.

“I really don’t know yet,” Quarles said. “I’m kind of thinking about doing it, but I’m leaning toward not doing it. I really don’t know where I stand right now. I really just want to focus on this game and come out here and just dominate and play the best game I possibly can.”

Participating in Senior Day doesn’t automatically mean that the player won’t be back; Kenny Miles participated in 2011 because he knew chances for him to play in 2012 were slim. He changed his mind, played a good bit in 2012 and was re-honored then.

Not participating in Senior Day doesn’t mean that much, either. Ace Sanders didn’t last year, had a great Outback Bowl and decided to go pro. Hampton will participate in Senior Day, but his NFL decision will be made later.

“Yeah, I will be going out for Senior Day,” Hampton said. “At this moment, I still have a couple of games here. It depends on how I finish here. “

Shots fired

Steve Spurrier and Dabo Swinney kept their mouths free of barbs during Tuesday’s press conferences, only saying polite and respectful things about the other and the other program. The strategy bled mostly through each team.

USC holder Patrick Fish didn’t get the hint.

While place-kicker Elliott Fry stood beside him and mentioned how neat it would be if he were called on to kick a game-winning field goal, Fish one-upped him.

“I’m hoping just to blow ’em out,” he grinned.

Fish also mentioned how he knew about the rivalry while growing up in Shelby, N.C. There were a lot of Clemson fans in town, he said, leading to another punchline.

“It’s a farm town, so I guess you can understand that,” he quipped.

Three-pointers

The game hasn’t been influenced by a kick since 2007, when Clemson’s Mark Buchholz booted a game-winning field goal a year after Clemson’s Jad Dean had missed one to tie the score.

That could change this year, and each team feels confident it would have the edge.

The Tigers’ Chandler Catanzaro has missed one of 13 field-goal attempts, and is perfect on 54 PATs. Fry, the freshman walk-on, won the job in preseason camp and proved it was no fluke, connecting on 14-of-17 field goals with one miss out of 47 PATs.

“So you have two excellent kickers. It could come down to a field goal, who knows?” Spurrier said. “Who knows how it will play out? But certainly, Elliott has been a very pleasant surprise for us.”

Keep it on your phone

Spurrier acknowledged that it’s impossible for fans not to know what will be going on in the Texas A&M-Missouri game, which will decide USC’s SEC Eastern Division fate. The age of instant information has declared that.

He and his team won’t be focused on anything but winning Saturday, though.

“We don’t need to worry about those other games that we have no control over,” Spurrier said. “We accept where we’re at.”

USC’s videoboard showed the finish of the Georgia-Auburn game last week, during USC’s game against Coastal Carolina. This week, the A&M-Missouri game kicks off at 7:45 p.m., 45 minutes after USC’s kickoff.

Old reliable

USC will wear its all-garnet uniforms for the game. The combination has been classified in some circles as “Big-Game Garnet.”

The Gamecocks have worn all-garnet in each of their past two home games against Clemson.

Injury report

Mike Davis (rib/shoulder/ankle), Clowney (foot) and Quarles (concussion) fully practiced. Brison Williams (forearm) practiced for a little bit and is progressing toward being ready for Saturday.

Devin Washington (concussion) and Jordan Diaz (knee) remain sidelined.

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