COLUMBIA, S.C. (December 19, 2011) — The University of South Carolina football team worked out twice Monday at the Bluff Road practice fields. In between the two practices, the annual team photo was taken in Williams-Brice Stadium. The squad continues its preparations for the 2012 Capital One Bowl, which will match the 10-2 Gamecocks against the 9-3 Nebraska Cornhuskers on Monday, January 2 in Orlando, Fla.
Several players were held out of practices on Monday, including Alshon Jeffery (hand), C.C. Whitlock (knee), D.J. Swearinger (foot), Terrence Campbell (leg) and Kelcy Quarles (knee). Wide receiver Bruce Ellington worked out with the team during the morning session.
“I think we did a good job the last two days,” said defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. “I think the first day we came back to practice we weren’t as focused but I think yesterday’s practice and the two times we practiced today we got better.”
Ward said he was not surprised at last week’s defection of freshman Martay Mattox. “He actually felt like he was better than he was and he should have played this season. If he felt that way and he felt like he could go somewhere and play earlier, then I gave him 100 percent blessing. Martay had a lot of ability and I told him that. He has to understand that sometimes coming out of high school where you’re a superstar, and you get to college and think you should play there also, but sometimes there’s a timetable for any young man. Martay made that decision so we gave him that blessing and he moved on.”
Ward did not think that Ellis Johnson’s situation would be a distraction for the team. Johnson has been in the mix for the head coaching position at Southern Miss. “We have some experienced young men and we’re not talking about playing in the middle of the season. We’re talking about playing another ballgame and winning number 11, which would be the 13th game we’ll play. Whether he gets the job or doesn’t, whether he coaches the bowl game, we’re going to keep going forward and we’ll get the job done and keep improving as a defense.”
The squad will return to the practice fields on Tuesday afternoon at 4 pm. They will continue to practice through Friday before breaking for the Christmas holiday. All practices are closed.