COLUMBIA -- A month ago, Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora was pretty fearless in his prediction for his team's Sept. 2 opener at South Carolina. He's come off that a bit in recent days.

"We understand that South Carolina's got one of the best teams that they've probably had in years," Fedora said this week. "We understand what coach (Steve) Spurrier and his staff are capable of doing.

"Yes, our players are going to go out there on that field and expect to win - like they do every game. Have I promised any of those things? No. But they're going to go out there and expect to win. That's the way they're going to approach the game."

Compare that to the sentiment Fedora, a former Florida assistant now in his first head-coaching gig, told fans at an "All-Star Party" in Jackson, Miss., in mid-July.

"So every college football fan in the entire country will be watching us -- watching the Golden Eagles beating South Carolina," Fedora said, according to The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. "I've already told the guys when it happens, walk across the field and shake their hands like you expected it to happen."

Several of South Carolina's coaches and players, including Spurrier, have acknowledged what Fedora said.

"They're very confident they're going to come in here and kick our butts," Spurrier said this week on his radio show. "We have to be ready."

Showing improvement

Defensive head coach Ellis Johnson revealed the Gamecocks had 57 missed assignments in 80 plays during Thursday's scrimmage.

"That's just way too many, obviously," Johnson said. "I think that was a lot better (Saturday)."

Johnson continued to lament the fact that his unit is missing its "quarterback," junior outside linebacker Shaq Wilson. Wilson tweaked the hamstring injury that's cost him most of camp.

If Wilson is healthy by the opener, though, Johnson said he would start.

Day off

The Gamecocks got Sunday off. They'll return to the practice fields at 7:30 p.m. tonight. At some point this week, the team should begin installing its gameplan for Southern Miss. It might mix in one more scrimmage in the middle of the week.

Spurrier's news conference for the Southern Miss game is Sunday.