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Nov. 3, 2015

The University of South Carolina football team worked out Tuesday afternoon at the new Gamecock Park practice facility.

The Gamecocks (3-5, 1-5 SEC) will travel to Knoxville this weekend to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (4-4, 2-3 SEC) in another SEC Eastern Division showdown. Game time is set for 4 p.m. Eastern and the game will be televised on the SEC Network with Tom Hart, Andre Ware and Laura Rutledge providing the commentary.

The answer as to how the Gamecocks can have success in Knoxville, at least on the defensive side of the football is simple, according to linebackers coach Kirk Botkin. “We just have to play better. We have to do our assignment better.”

The Gamecock defense will be challenged again this week by another quarterback with the ability to run and to make plays with his feet. “Anytime the quarterback is running the football, it adds a dimension to the offense,” noted Botkin. “They do a really good job getting (quarterback Joshua) Dobbs to run the football in different situations. It’s going to be a challenge. We’re going to have to prepare and do the best we can.”

Interim head coach Shawn Elliott noted that Tennessee’s quarterback/running back tandem may be as good as any in the SEC, and the Carolina defensive coaches would agree. “(Dobbs) is a year older and a year bigger,” said Botkin. “So is Hurd, No. 1. He’s a year older and a year bigger. Both of those guys are special. They do a really good job of getting them both the football and getting them a lot of touches. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. Tennessee is a good football team,” added Botkin.

One of the changes that the defensive coaches may make this week is possibly starting D.J. Smith ahead of Jordan Diggs at safety. Diggs has been the starter all season, but Smith has seen his playing time increase over the past few games. “As far as practice has been going, I’ve been playing the same as before,” said Smith of the possible change. “Coach hasn’t said anything to me (about starting). Jordan worked with the 1’s and I was with the 2’s today. We’ll see how the week progresses.

“(Jordan) is like a big brother,” continued Smith. “He helps me out with the stuff I need help with. He helps me get my fits down and overall play, playing smart. Jordan has been here longer than I have. Over the course of the season, he has helped me learn the defense and get better at it.”

The Gamecocks will return to the practice fields on Wednesday afternoon.