COLUMBIA -- As temperatures plummeted in the Midlands, Stephen Garcia hung around a few minutes after practice Wednesday to make some additional throws.
South Carolina's junior quarterback was out of a sling that encased his left shoulder and had nothing to protect the right thumb he jammed into a helmet. In other words, Garcia is fine for Saturday's SEC title game.
"He went around today and took most of the reps," USC quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus said after practice. "He'll be fine. He'll come out and just let it go (today) and be ready to go (Saturday)."
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier didn't make Garcia available to reporters, despite requests. That's nothing new, even if this SEC championship week.
It's not because of Garcia's recent play -- or really his play all season. Garcia hasn't committed a turnover in three games (neither has USC, as a team). Garcia is currently rated the 14th-best passer in the country.
The only game he was yanked from this season was the initial Auburn game. The thing is, before the two fumbles that undid his night, Garcia was playing very well. He was 15-for-21 passing with 235 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
"He played really good for three quarters," Mangus said. "That's kind of the shame of it. The two plays (fumbles) kind of overshadowed the fact that he did play really well in a hostile environment."
Focus on Cam
Spurrier has said a couple of times this week that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton will get his vote for the Heisman Trophy.
Spurrier, like a lot of other voters and those associated with the SEC, is giving Newton the benefit of the doubt regarding his off-field travails. Newton was reinstated Wednesday by the NCAA after Auburn deemed him ineligible Tuesday.
"Until something is proven, I think he deserves to be treated like all the other athletes," Spurrier said during his Tuesday news conference. "Obviously, they've been investigating and nothing has been proven. I think we should treat him like all the other athletes in this game."
Spurrier marveled how Newton, who has 43 total touchdowns this season, has played through the turmoil surrounding him.
"Obviously he's had the ability not to let any of that bother him," Spurrier said. "He acts like he doesn't read the newspapers or hear any of it. So he's a sharp young man that has the ability to focus on helping his team win the game. So that's what he's done ever since it came out."
No bowing to Bowers
After a 15 1/2-sack season, Da'Quan Bowers on Wednesday was named the ACC's defensive player of the year.
The way Gamecocks offensive line coach Shawn Elliott described Bowers to his players last week, you'd think Bowers were player of the universe.
"I spoon-fed it to them every day, how great he was and all that stuff," Elliott said. "I don't know if he's that great, but I told them he was."
Tired of hearing about him, USC's offensive line held Bowers and a talented Clemson defensive line to no sacks. Elliott has conveyed a similar message this week about Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
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