COLUMBIA -- When South Carolina's football team showed up to Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 8, the Monday after a three-touchdown home loss to Arkansas, the Gamecocks knew a lot of things had to change.
The first thing coach Steve Spurrier did was shuffle the Monday practice schedule. Instead of a normal workout, which typically runs from about 7-9 p.m., Spurrier had the players gather in the late afternoon hours for an extended film session.
The Gamecocks then had about a half-hour of conditioning -- and then they called it a day.
Some questioned the move at the time, wondering if pulling back was the correct call after Arkansas handled the team in every imaginable way.
South Carolina responded, though, with a thorough 36-14 clobbering of
Florida in The Swamp, a win that delivered USC's first SEC East title.
"We played pretty well down there," Spurrier said, "so we've sort of left it like that."
The Gamecocks then crushed Troy by 45 points. And then, this past weekend, they dismantled Clemson by 22 in Death Valley.
So it's no surprise, of course, that SEC championship week started Monday at Williams-Brice the same way the past three weeks have.
"It's basically having Sunday and Monday off," Gamecocks safety Akeem Auguste said. "We're resting up our legs. We're getting the job done and staying light on our feet, making sure we're ready for Saturdays."
The film portion is a big part of the "new Monday" at USC. The staff takes about 90 minutes going over the previous game, correcting mistakes and applauding successes, and then there's a short session about the next opponent.
Actually, the Gamecocks spent 20 more minutes watching Auburn than they have the upcoming opponent the past three weeks. That's only natural when you're preparing for a Heisman frontrunner, a 12-0 team and a conference championship game.
"We were watching a little bit of that zone read," Auguste said, referring to Auburn's offense. "We've got to understand the whole concept of this thing. We've got to know who has to do their job right and who needs to do their job right."
By November, obviously, a lot of teams are getting worn down. Having the abbreviated time on the field for Mondays has helped USC's players stay refreshed as the Gamecocks now prepare for their 13th game in 14 weeks.
"It's a long year," South Carolina defensive assistant Shane Beamer said. "This is our 13th game, I guess, plus a month of practice in August. Guys get worn down, so it's been a good pick-me-up for our guys."
Also helping the fatigue factor is the fact that starters such as running back Marcus Lattimore haven't had to play the entirety of a game in a month.
Most starters, including Lattimore, didn't play the entire second half of the Troy game. Several were out by the fourth quarters at Florida and Clemson.
"In the Clemson game, I never expected it to be like that," Auguste said. "I thought we'd have to play a lot more than what we did, but we shut them down, a lot of three-and-outs."
The revised Monday schedule isn't just of benefit to the players. Beamer said it gives South Carolina's coaching staff more time on Mondays -- both before and after the film and conditioning sessions -- to devise the game plan for that given week.
Although there was no real practice, quarterback Stephen Garcia had his left arm and shoulder in a harness, to immobilize the joint. Garcia landed awkwardly on the shoulder during the Clemson game, but continued to play through the pain.
Garcia also hit his right thumb on a helmet early in the game.
Spurrier said Garcia will be restricted early this week, but he fully expects Garcia to play Saturday.
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