Practice report: Knee surgery sidelines Byrd for bowl game

Clayton Stadnik could start at center vs. Wisconsin

jkendall@thestate.comDecember 20, 2013 

South Carolina wide receiver Damiere Byrd

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

Junior wide receiver Damiere Byrd, South Carolina’s second-leading receiver, will not play in the Capital One Bowl after suffering a knee injury that will require surgery.

Byrd was injured during Tuesday’s practice and is expected to undergo arthroscopic surgery. He indicated via Twitter on Friday evening that he tore a meniscus.

The No. 8 Gamecocks play No. 19 Wisconsin on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Fla.

Byrd, the Gamecocks’ fastest player and a captain on South Carolina’s track team, caught 33 passes for 575 yards and four touchdowns this season. His per catch average of 17.42 yards ranked 29th in the nation this season.

Byrd was listed with Shaq Roland and Bruce Ellington as starters on the latest depth chart. His backups are redshirt junior Nick Jones and redshirt freshman Kwinton Smith.

Athletic spokesman Steve Fink told The Associated Press that the team was hopeful Byrd will recover in time to participate in spring practice.

Versatility

Starting safety Brison Williams will work some at cornerback during bowl practices in case he has to play there in an emergency situation against Wisconsin, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said.

The Gamecocks are short at cornerback after the sudden departure of top backup Ahmad Christian. Ward said family issues prompted Christian’s departure. A source told The State last week that Christian will try to continue his collegiate athletic career closer to his ill mother.

“I’ll never ever try to come between a man and his family so we wish him well,” Ward said.

Center battle

After what offensive line coach Shawn Elliott called “bonehead mistakes” against Clemson, Cody Waldrop is no longer a lock to star the Capital One Bowl. Clayton Stadnik, who filled in earlier this season when Waldrop was out with a foot injury, may start the game, Elliott said.

“Every day is a battle. I’d say probably Clayton won it today,” Elliott said.

SEC speed

Running back Shon Carson jumped into the SEC vs. Big Ten argument this week with this nugget: "They're big guys, not that fast, but they play physical,” Carson said of the Badgers.

Postseason game

Senior offensive guard Ronald Patrick has accepted an invitation to play in the Medal of Honor Bowl, a showcase game for NFL prospects that will be played in Charleston on Jan. 11, the bowl announced Friday. Chan Gailey and Ralph Friedgen will be the head coaches in the inaugural game.

All-SEC again

Defensive linemen Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles were named to Phil Steele’s All-SEC first team on Friday. Quarterback Connor Shaw, running back Mike Davis, offensive lineman A.J. Cann, spur Sharrod Golightly and cornerback Victor Hampton were named to Steele’s third team.

Practice report

The Gamecocks worked out for nearly two hours Friday afternoon and will have two more practices before their holiday break. South Carolina will practice Saturday and Sunday and then reconvene at the bowl site on Dec. 26. The Gamecocks will hold their first practice in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 27.

“I feel really good (about the preparation). They guys have been really focused,” Ward said. “We’ve had four or five days in a row where we came out and practice really to get us better.”

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