COLUMBIA -- Several South Carolina players missed the early part of practice Wednesday, the first day that coach Steve Spurrier acknowledged publicly that the matter with The Whitney Hotel could cost some of his players time on the field.
Spurrier began hinting, somewhat hypothetically, at suspensions as he spoke Wednesday at a Touchdown Club luncheon. He continued that logic after practice.
Notably, Spurrier said USC wouldn't appeal any punishment from NCAA officials, who continue to interview players about their living arrangements this year at the nice Columbia hotel.
"Historically guys who maybe received some extra benefit, according to the NCAA, they have to miss some game or two somewhere along the way," he said. "So, if that happens, we'll accept it and move on. But it may not happen. We don't know. I was just explaining what could and could not happen with a situation that a few of our players are in right now."
The players in question are becoming somewhat obvious this week.
DBs Akeem Auguste and C.C. Whitlock missed all of Tuesday's practice and the early portion of Wednesday's workout. Offensive tackle Jarriel King and DT Melvin Ingram missed parts of practice the past two days.
"That's in the hands of the administration and the NCAA," cornerbacks and free safeties coach Lorenzo Ward said, when asked about Auguste and Whitlock. "We'll just play with who we've got."
Additionally, USC awaits word from the NCAA about suspended tight end Weslye Saunders. He is out indefinitely after lying to coaches about why he missed part of practice and meetings Saturday. At the least, he allegedly had improper contact with an agent.
QB race continues
Spurrier has not shied away from his talk of playing both junior Stephen Garcia and freshman Connor Shaw at quarterback in next week's opener against Southern Miss. "They're both going to play, like I've said."
They had roughly the same amount of snaps in practice Wednesday.
Spurrier did at least (predictably) narrow the quarterback race to two, Garcia and Shaw. "It's down to two," he said. "They're going to get about all of the snaps the rest of the year, barring injury."
Just after he said that, though, Spurrier complimented the steps taken by walk-on quarterback Seth Strickland, who is probably the team's third QB option as of now. (Strickland has also won the starting holder job, after Stephen Flint left the team.)
Strickland has fared well in the team's scrimmage, Spurrier says.
"I'd feel comfortable if he was out there playing, if we were playing against Georgia, Tennessee, whoever. I really would," Spurrier said of the Laurens native. "Seth Strickland's a pretty calm quarterback."
The Gamecocks plan to take today off from the practice field, before entering a "gameweek" mode beginning Friday. The team plans to practice through the weekend. Spurrier will conduct his news conference Tuesday, two days before the opener. … Hoops note: Coach Darrin Horn had outpatient back surgery last week. He said he’s already feeling better.
-- Travis Haney