September 10, 2007

Ellis, Campbell could be shifted to O-Line

Kenrick Ellis and Terrence Campbell just want to play.

In order to do that, the pair of redshirt freshmen may have to change sides of the ball.

Ellis and Campbell, caught in a numbers game along the defensive line, could shift to the offensive line as early as this week, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Monday night following the team's two-hour workout, the first since the dramatic 16-12 road victory over No. 11 Georgia Saturday night.

"We may move big Kendrick Ellis over to offense," Spurrier said. "He doesn't get to play much on defense. They've got too many guys over there. We've probably done a poor job of trying to beef up our offensive line.

"We've got too many guys stacked up on the D-line right now. So Kendrick and Terrence Campbell are two guys that we need to look at and see if they can help us. We'll try them at guard. They may be our backup guards this week."

Spurrier said neither player voiced opposition about the move when he approached them about it. However, both players remained on defense during Monday's workout.

"We might start with them maybe (Tuesday)," said Spurrier.

Ellis and Campbell both signed with USC in 2006. Ellis battled weight problems in fall camp before the start of last season and ended up redshirting. Ellis was listed at 6-foot-5, 337 pounds on USC's official roster for Saturday night's game.

Campbell, a 6-foot-2, 272-pounder from Austell, Ga., was also redshirted last season but for a different reason. He suffered a serious season-ending knee injury early in fall camp last year. He underwent surgery, and did not fully participate in spring practice. He added about 40 pounds to his frame since arriving in Columbia.

If the moves are made, Spurrier didn't know if they would be permanent.

"It all depends on whether they get in the game and play," Spurrier said. "They could always go play defense if they had to. But just we're too stacked up with D-Linemen. They need to come play offense. We probably should have switched them last spring. But nobody says we're the smartest guys in the world. "They told me they just want to play. It won't hurt trying."

Spurrier said Gurminder Thind may start at guard this week. He started the first two games at tackle last season before a foot injury ended his year.

The first team offensive line during Monday's practice was LT Jamon Meredith, LR Gurminder Thind, C Williams Brown, RG Garrett Anderson and RT Justin Sorensen.

USC went with that five-man unit for a portion of the second half in Saturday night's win over Georgia..

USC faces Division I-AA S.C. State on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium looking to improve to 3-0 on the young season. If the Gamecocks prevail, it would mark the best start since 2001 when USC won its first five games.

"It's sort of amazing that (South Carolina State) has been playing football for 100 years and we've been playing about 114
years and it's the first time the two schools have ever met," Spurrier said. "It should be an exciting evening. They're a good team. I think they're picked to win their conference, so it should be a heck of a game."

MIKE DAVIS STARTS FAST: After struggling out of the gate the past two seasons, running back Mike Davis is off to a fast start this season. Besides leading the Gamecocks with 150 yards rushing (6.2 yards average), he's tied with RB Cory Boyd for second in receptions with seven.

"It's been a lot of things," Davis said. "I love my offensive line and I'll do anything for them. The coach and the team have been behind me. I really wanted to start the year off good."

Davis played a key role Saturday night in one of the most important sequences of the night. On USC's ensuing possession after UGA had kicked a field goal to make it a 16-12 game, the Gamecocks ran right at the Georgia defense, smashing its way to three consecutive gains of 11 or more yards. By the time Georgia got the ball back, it had to go 80 yards in 80 seconds.

"I don't know what the key (to that drive) was," Davis said. "They probably thought we would pass a little. Coach Spurrier called a lot of great plays."

His rushing total of 150 yards is 31.6 percent of his 2006 total of 474 yards. If he maintains his current pace (75.0 yards per game), he'll conclude the regular season with a career high 900 yards. He had 666 yards in 2005.

Davis caught just 11 passes last season, but has exceeded one-half that total through two games this year. Davis now excels at catching the ball out of the backfield. He had five receptions for 22 yards Saturday night.

Davis says he's a lot more comfortable catching swing passes out of the backfield this season.

"I'll do what ever the team needs," Davis said. "I feel like I'm good at catching passes and getting the ball downfield."

SPURRIER IMPRESSED WITH STEWART: Sophomore safety Darian Stewart led USC with nine tackles in his first career start on Saturday, catching the eye of Steve Spurrier in the process.

Spurrier said he likes the way the Huntsville, Ala. native plays the game. Stewart appeared in 12 of 13 games last season both on defense and special teams. Spurrier calculated that Stewart made about four "last-man tackles" in Saturday's win at Georgia, although he made one mistake when he ran into the Georgia punter to give the Bulldogs a first down.

"Darian is one of those players that plays fast in the game but he doesn't time out all that great in the 40-yard dash," Spurrier said. "But he plays faster when the game starts. We've got some guys who can run real fast on the clock (but) don't play very fast in the games. Darian really had an excellent game except for running into the punter that one time. That was his terrible play."

SUCCOP HONORED BY SEC: USC placekicker Ryan Succop, who made all three of his field goal attempts at Georgia Saturday night, was named the SEC's Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.

The three field goals from 41, 35 and 34 yards out matched his career high. He also averaged 40.7 yards on seven punts. Succop accounted for 10 of Carolina's 16 points in the contest.

He had one touchback on five kickoffs, and averaged 69.8 yards per kickoff, about 4.5 yards more than his Georgia counterpart. Nearly all of his kickoffs went into the end zone but several were returned by Georgia.

This is the second time Succop has earned the weekly award during his career at USC. He earned Player of the Week honors following the 2006 season opener at Mississippi State when he connected for three field goals and punted six times for a 48.7-yard average.

Succop has made 3-of-4 field goals so far this season. He missed his only attempt in the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette. He has also punted 10 times for an average of 42.0 yards per boot.

CBS INVOKES SIX-DAY RIGHTS: CBS, which owns the national network broadcast rights to SEC football games, has invoked its six-day rights for the games scheduled on Sept. 22. As a result, the game time for USC's potential Top 15 clash at LSU has not been announced. The other game under consideration is Georgia at Alabama.

Whichever game CBS foregoes will be televised by ESPN at 7:45 p.m. as its national prime time game. Therefore, the USC-LSU game is guaranteed to be shown on national TV either way. CBS is expected to announce its decision Sunday afternoon.

USC last appeared on CBS in 2006 when it faced Florida in a game ballyhooed as Steve Spurrier's return to The Swamp. USC lost, 17-16, when Succop's last-second field goal was blocked.


-- INJURY REPORT - Several USC players were held out of practice on Monday, including wide receiver Chris Culliver (left ankle sprain). "He twisted it a little bit but he told me he'll be back practicing Wednesday," Spurrier said. Culliver has 32 yards on three rushing attempts this season.

In addition, linebacker Dustin Lindsey (right knee) and defensive lineman Nathan Pepper (right leg) are nursing injuries. The players who remain sidelined are Kevin Young (left ankle), Bobby Wallace (right shoulder) and Yvan Banag (right knee). Quarterback Chris Smelley was limited in his work due to a sore right shoulder. Linebacker Cody Wells returned to practice after missing Saturday's game at Georgia with a leg injury.

-- Asked if tight end Robert Pavlovic would move to tackle, Spurrier tersely said, "He's not playing now because he can't block."

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