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Sept. 4, 2014

The No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks (0-1, 0-1 SEC) host the East Carolina Pirates (1-0, 0-0 AAC) in a non-conference matchup at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, September 6. The game will be televised nationally on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET with Anish Shroff and Kelly Stouffer in the broadcast booth and Cara Capuano on the sidelines.

The Gamecocks continued their preparations for the Pirates with a Thursday afternoon practice at the Bluff Road “Proving Grounds.” Following Thursday’s workout, defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward indicated there would be a few changes in the starters on defense.

“Skai (Moore) will go back and start at WILL linebacker,” said Ward. “T.J. Gurley will start for Chaz Elder at safety. Rico (McWilliams) will start at corner. Depending on David Johnson, how his toe is, he could start at (defensive) end for Darius (English). But that remains to be seen.”

Cornerback Brison Williams has worn a yellow “no contact” jersey each of the last two days in practice. “Brison practiced today,” noted Ward. “If Brison isn’t ready to go, then Rico and Al (Harris Jr.) will start (at cornerback).” Williams is considered day-to-day according to Ward with a bruised right arm. “He hurt his forearm in a field goal rush situation,” said Ward, “but he’s getting better every day.”

Ward knows his defense did not perform up to expectations last week in the loss to Texas A&M. “It’s all fundamentals. Last week we didn’t play well in space,” said Ward. “They spread us out. We couldn’t generate a pass rush and we didn’t cover them in the perimeter. We’ve got to be able to make plays. We had 17 opportunities on third down and I think 10 of those we’re five yards or more where we had an opportunity to get off the field, but we didn’t make a play.”

Ward said the Gamecocks would continue to play both the 4-2-5 and the 3-4 defense against East Carolina. “We’ll play both. The offense will dictate what we do as far as the personnel. We’ll definitely play some 3-4 and some 4-2-5.”

Ward liked the way the team has responded this week in practice. “I thought they came out Saturday ready to practice. We changed up our Monday schedule this week. We went longer than we normally do on Monday, so the guys responded well. I was satisfied with the practice,” added Ward, “but I want to see it in the game. We’ll see how we respond two days from now.”