COLUMBIA -- Tuesday, Steve Spurrier had his say about South Carolina's offensive line. Wednesday, it was first-year position coach Shawn Elliott's turn.
Spurrier was hard on the unit in the wake of its second consecutive poor performance, this time in the loss at Auburn. Elliott, fiery, was just as hard on it.
"Well ... wouldn't you be?" Elliott said, voice raising. "They didn't play very well -- didn't block very well, didn't protect very well. We had a part in those fumbles that were caused there in the fourth quarter."
Quarterback Stephen Garcia, under heavy pressure, fumbled twice. Both turnovers led directly to Auburn touchdowns.
"You can't be happy with it," Elliott said, voice cracking.
"Shoot, nobody's happy with it. That wasn't a great effort by anyone."
Spurrier said Tuesday the Gamecocks are "stuck" with the linemen they have, due to a lack of depth. Nagging injuries have already caused a great deal of shuffling early in the season.
Tackle Hutch Eckerson (ankle), guard Rok Watkins (stinger) and guard Terrence Campbell (ankle) have missed periods of practice -- and have struggled in games after missing that practice time. Center T.J. Johnson (undisclosed) has been limited some this week. So has tackle Kyle Nunn (foot).
Guard Garrett Chisolm missed a game after a death in his family. Additionally, tackle Jarriel King missed half of camp with a hamstring injury and then the North Charleston native was embroiled in an NCAA investigation that caused him to miss the opener.
The bye week comes at a good time for this group.
"We've got to get a group out there that isn't sitting in the training room all day and isn't missing practices and then comes out there and plays on Saturday," Elliott said. "It's something you can't do. We've got to get them healthy and we've got to play better."
The injuries have caused some to play out of position at times. Watkins was highly ineffective in the Furman game because he was playing left guard instead of right guard. Might not sound like a big difference, but Elliott said don't underestimate the subtle differences of the position.
The linemen themselves were pretty edgy Wednesday. Particularly Johnson, who is typically affable.
"Everybody wants to do well. We're not there yet," Eckerson said. "We're aware of the criticism. We want to make sure we're not the weakest link out there."
Johnson, for one, said he's glad that it's No. 1 Alabama coming to town next week.
"We need to make a statement," Johnson said. "Especially after this past game."
Elliott didn't seem as concerned about the opponent, so much as the chance at redemption.
"There's been glimpses of hope. ... I don't care who we play," Elliott said. "I just want these guys to have a chance to redeem themselves."
Asked if the freshmen -- guys such as A.J. Cann and Ronald Patrick -- were ready to ease in, to relieve some of the stress on the banged-up unit, Elliott just laughed.
"You throw those guys in there," Elliott said, "and maybe the only thing shaken up is Garcia's head a little bit more."
In the off week's other subplot, Garcia acknowledged that he needs to alter his running style. But he admitted it will be difficult to "get on the ground," as Spurrier has advised, rather than take on defenders.
"I think it's going to be hard for me to slide," said Garcia, who typically isn't made available during the middle of the week. "That's just not the kind of person I am. I guess we'll find out. We'll see what happens."
Garcia did say he's trying to tailor his instincts. Those around Garcia have been encouraging him, to no avail, to run differently since his high school days.
Lowering his head at the point of contact, Spurrier says, increases the risk for severe injury.
"It's just a hard habit to get out of," Garcia said.
After the fumbles, Spurrier never found Garcia to tell him he was out. Garcia learned he'd been benched when he saw Connor Shaw enter the game.
Asked how lucid he was after the hits he sustained, Garcia said he was a little out of it after the first one, but was fine after "a minute or two."
While Garcia said the benching caught him by surprise -- especially considering he was 15 for 21, with three touchdowns and no interceptions -- he understood the move.
"I can't fumble twice. That can't happen," he said. "That's the main reason he took me out. I've just got to play better, play smarter."