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Oct. 31, 2013

The No. 14/16 South Carolina football squad practiced Thursday afternoon at the Bluff Road “Proving Grounds.” The Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) are preparing for Saturday’s contest with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-3, 1-2 SEC).

Defensive tackle Gerald Dixon, Jr. (ankle) returned to practice for the first time this week. He did not make the trip to Missouri last week. “He practiced today, so it looks like he’ll be ready to play,” said defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward.

Ward compared Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott to someone Gamecock fans are very familiar with. “A lot like Connor Shaw, but a lot bigger,” said Ward of Prescott. “He runs it well and he’s getting better and better throwing the football. We’ve got to do a good job of trying to stop him. They let him do it all. If you look at the Auburn game, he comes out throwing the football. He comes out running the ball in certain games. It just depends on what game plan they have. He does both very well. We’ve got to stop the quarterback. If we don’t stop the quarterback it could be a long day for us.

“I’d like to think we’re getting better each week,” continued Ward. “We gave up a couple big plays last week that we shouldn’t have given up, but it happened. But the guys hung together. I think the biggest thing is we grew up as a team, as a defense, and we played better as the game went.

“They’ve got good linemen,” noted Ward. “I hope we’ve got good defensive linemen. That’s where the battle is won – up front. They take pride in their offensive line and hopefully, we’re going to take pride in our defensive line on Saturday.”

Saturday’s game is set for 12:21 p.m. ET and will be televised by SEC TV. Dave Neal and Andre Ware will be in the booth with Cara Capuano working the sidelines. The game has been declared a sell out.