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Dec. 24, 2014

Skai Moore
Chaz Elder
T.J. Gurley

The University of South Carolina football team practiced in Shreveport for the first time on Wednesday. The Gamecocks (6-6) are preparing for the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl against the Miami Hurricanes (6-6) on Saturday, December 27. Kick is set for 3:30 p.m. ET (2:30 in Shreveport) and the contest will be televised nationally on ABC.

Head coach Steve Spurrier said the Gamecocks had a good workout on Wednesday despite practicing in 40-degree weather with gusty winds.

“The guys moved around and had a spirited practice,” said the Head Ball Coach. “It’s supposed to warm up the next couple of days. It’s supposed to be 60 on Saturday. But we had a decent practice. It was cold and windy, a little different than Columbia, that’s for sure, but Dylan (Thompson) actually threw the ball very well today in this cold wind.”

It’s been rare for the Gamecocks to be at the bowl site over Christmas, as they will be this year, but the usual bowl traveling party made the trip to Shreveport. “Even the guys that got hurt during the season are all traveling,” said Coach Spurrier. “I think we brought 99 players, and all the kids, grandkids, and baby sitters. We’ve got the entire entourage that we’ve been traveling to bowl games with. We’ll have a chapel service and have a team dinner,” said Coach Spurrier of the team’s plans for Christmas Day.

As has been the case all year, Coach Spurrier was vague about who would play quarterback if Thompson was unable to go. “I’m not sure (who would go in second). We’d probably rotate them a little bit.” He indicted that Connor Mitch, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia would “battle it out in the spring” for the starting duties in 2015.

Coach Spurrier noted that oftentimes the bowl game is an opportunity to use a trick play. “A lot of teams have worked on their fake punts and field goals all year and probably never used them, so we’re expecting them,” he said. “We expect teams to do it. Wisconsin tried that fake punt last year. You’ve got to expect a little bit of anything because teams practice trick plays all year and this is the last game of the year. If you’re going to use it, you’ve got to use it. Both teams would be thinking that way.”

Coach Spurrier recalled the Gamecocks being very happy to play in Shreveport following the 2005 season, but come into this game with a little different mentality. “I’m happy to be here. Gosh, with three games to play and two of them at Florida and at Clemson, our odds of winning two out of three were probably below 50 percent, so we’re thrilled to be here and get to six wins. This team, as we know, struggled a bit this year. Some teams are happy as they can be to be 6-6 and some teams are a little disappointed to be there. We’re a little disappointed, but on the other side it could be worse. We’re thankful and appreciate also.”

Defensive end David Johnson did not practice on Wednesday and will not be available on Saturday after suffering a concussion in practice last week. Offensive lineman Cody Waldrop also did not practice and will not be available for the game as he continues to be sidelined with a knee injury.

The Gamecocks will spend part of Wednesday afternoon sharing Christmas wishes to the patients on the pediatric ward of the University Health System. The squad will practice again on Christmas morning at 11:30 a.m. at Loyola Prep.