Garcia 'should be fine'
COLUMBIA -- Despite Las Vegas' concerns about South Carolina's quarterback, Steve Spurrier reassured the gambling and non-gambling world that junior Stephen Garcia is OK for Saturday's SEC title game against No. 1 Auburn.
Garcia has been wearing a sling over his "banged-up" non-throwing shoulder. He fell on the left shoulder during the Clemson game, but he still finished the 29-7 victory at Death Valley. Garcia also hit his right thumb on a helmet early in the game.
"He should be fine by Saturday night," Spurrier said of the country's 14th-rated passer.
Spurrier said Garcia would be held out of practice Tuesday, but he's expected to return today.
Garcia is a fascinating feature of the game, considering he was pulled in the fourth quarter of the first meeting with Auburn after a pair of costly fumbles.
"I think it was a major step in him learning how to run with the ball," Spurrier said of Garcia's development after that game.
The news of Garcia in a sling was enough to have Vegas pull the SEC title game off the board at various casinos' sportsbooks. Shortly after Spurrier optimistically talked about Garcia, the game returned to most books. Auburn, which opened as a seven-point favorite, is now down to a 4 1/2-5-point favorite.
One Columbia TV reporter repeatedly brought up the taboo subject of fumbles Tuesday.
Freshman Marcus Lattimore has had 255 touches (232 carries, 23 catches) without a fumble this season.
"I admit," Lattimore said, "I had a fumbling problem in high school."
At USC, running backs coach Jay Graham -- a former 1,000-yard rusher at Tennessee -- showed Lattimore the five pressure points of a ball.
"Ever since I learned how to hold it, high and tight," Lattimore said, "it's been fine."
You hear a lot about how teams have good chemistry, but you rarely hear how or why.
Receiver Tori Gurley provided an illustration Tuesday, talking about a Thanksgiving spent with 17 teammates -- in an elevator.
A dozen and a half Gamecocks were stuck on a Williams-Brice elevator for nearly two hours before EMTs freed them.
"It was kind of funny," Gurley said, "but at the same time we really had each others' backs. This is probably the closest Carolina team that's ever been here."
Gurley didn't lose to Clemson last weekend, but he did lose his helmet at Clemson.
Someone swiped it just after USC's victory. Regardless of if it was a Clemson or USC fan, perhaps it's yet another reason the ACC needs to review its postgame policy of allowing fans on the field.
"I put out a notice on Facebook (about the helmet)," Gurley said, adding he said he'd trade something in exchange for it. "It's all good, because I've got another one now."