*Written by student assistant Kim Barrett:
After practice Tuesday, freshman safety T.J. Gurley answered questions on the responsibility of replacing D.J. Swearinger in this Saturday's game against Missouri, and how he has been preparing for the role of starting safety.
When asked if there was any extra pressure in replacing Swearinger, who was suspended for the Missouri game by the SEC for an illegal hit, Gurley stated, "There isn't any pressure, we have been watching film together all the time."
Even before a starting opportunity arose, Gurley has been playing extremely hard during practice. Fans and media noticed during one of the team's preseason scrimmages some particularly hard hits by Gurley. Gurley explained to media yesterday, "When I came to the sideline every body came up to me, and said, 'Coach Spurrier's going to get on you.'"
Spurrier ran right up to Gurley after the hit, but Gurley says defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward reassured him that they would never take the aggression out of him.
Secondary/Assistant Special Teams Coordinator Grady Brown commented on Gurley's ability to start as a freshman, stating that "he isn't a tentative player, and he will do well this weekend."
When asked about his fellow coaches and the player's reactions to the freshman filling in for Swearinger, Coach Brown suggested that it was an automatic decision. There was no detailed conversations because Gurley has always been the backup.
In regards to Swearinger's reaction to the suspension, sophomore defensive end Jadaveon Clowney commented that the senior safety was upset, and is a leader on the team so he wants to be out there playing.
Despite Swearinger being upset about the suspension, he is a leader, and as Clowney stated, "he is still out here supporting us everyday."
When asked his impressions of Gurley, and how he feels playing with the freshman, Clowney was quick to offer praise. "Gurley is going to be a great player. He comes out here and works everyday, and gives his best effort every time he is on the field."
After an aggressive practice, and guidance from his mentor Swearinger, Gurley feels no pressure for Saturday. He reassured everyone by stating, "I know what I have to do."
Watch full video of the players' and coaches' interviews here and check back to GamecocksOnline.com tonight for comments after Wednesday's practice.