*Written by student assistant Kim Barrett
Following practice Tuesday, several players and coaches spoke to the media regarding this Saturday's game against the undefeated Georgia Bulldogs. Defensive players and coaches spoke about the importance of preparing and not getting too emotional despite the hype surrounding the two SEC East teams.
Secondary coach Grady Brown spoke to the media about the rivalry between South Carolina and UGA. When asked how he balances being excited while keeping a focused mindset, Brown stated, "As a coach I'm excited every chance I get to coach, and the excitement level is there every game. It's still 11-11 despite the game."
Coach Brown was quick to dismiss any suggestions that the team was taking the first half off during this past weekend's game against Kentucky to prepare for the game against Georgia. "I can't say we were looking ahead to Georgia. I just think Kentucky played better in the first half, and we played up to our abilities in the second half and it showed."
Several defensive players realize they didn't play the best defense they could during the first half against Kentucky, and are using that game to help them better prepare for Georgia. Sophomore defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles commented to the media, "We came out too laid back, not enough attack. We underestimated a real good team, even though their record doesn't show it."
When asked if Quarles learned anything from Kentucky that will help him against Georgia, he stated, "We just have to go out and play better. We can't come out and play like we did the first half last week."
With the two teams being SEC East rivals, the Gamecocks are familiar with the Bulldogs' playing style. As senior cornerback Akeem Auguste said, "We play Georgia so much, we know what to expect and what we are facing. And I know Georgia feels the same way when they come on the field against us."
By keeping the mindset that this weekend's game is just like any other despite the strong media presence, the players can stay focused. Leaders of the team, including senior D.J. Swearinger, refer to the hype as "noise," and remind the team to practice hard regardless of the situation.
Akeem Auguste mentioned that he uses the South Carolina-UGA rivalry for motivation. According to Auguste, UGA players referred to themselves as the "beast from the east," following the UGA-Tennessee game. The Gamecocks have posted the image in their locker room for what Auguste calls "bulletin board motivation."
With the hopes of an SEC East championship on the line for the Gamecocks, the coaches and players remain focused on what they need to accomplish during practice to defeat the Bulldogs. Kelcy Quarles stated, "We come out here and practice hard, and let the product show on Saturday."
Watch full videos of the players' and coaches' comments here, and check back to GamecocksOnline.com tonight for comments after Wednesday's practice.