COLUMBIA -- Freshman offensive tackle Brandon Shell has seen some practice time with the first-team offense for the last two weeks.

But South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier isn't going to burn a redshirt season on the former Goose Creek High School standout.

"Hopefully Brandon has a real productive redshirt season," Spurrier said. "Hopefully he's getting stronger and quicker in the weight room. We want him to be a starter next year. We hope Brandon Shell will be able to anchor that left or right tackle position. You want to bring those guys in and hope you have a lot of fourth, fifth-year guys on your offensive line."

Third-down defense

South Carolina has the fourth-ranked defense in the Southeastern Conference.

The Gamecocks are giving up just 277 yards and 19.1 points a game through the first seven games of the season.

Spurrier would like to see the Gamecocks' defense improve on third down.

"Our defense is playing well, but we're giving up 40 percent on third down just like we did last year," Spurrier said. "That's not very good. We should be better than that. We've got to get better on third down defense and get those guys off the field."

Spurrier said it

"Alabama and LSU are definitely the two best teams in the SEC, at least right now. Fortunately, we don't play either one of them. Anyone know who the Alabama starting quarterback is? I don't. ... That just shows you that on a powerful team, the quarterback is not the key player at all."

Spurrier said it, II:

"We should certainly continue to shake hands after the games. That's not that hard to do. The players should shake hands. All of our players shake hands with our opponents every week. When it's over, it's over."

Hinch could be No. 2 RB

If Kenny Miles (wrist) and Eric Baker (ankle) can't play against Tennessee in 10 days, Josh Hinch would be the Gamecocks' No. 2 running back behind true freshman Brandon Wilds.

Hinch, a senior walk-on, ran track and played football at MidAmerica Nazarene College, an NAIA school in Olathe, Kan., in 2008.

Hinch transferred to South Carolina in 2010.

"Josh Hinch is the next man in line," Spurrier said. "He's from Knoxville by the way. He was in the spring game. I think he caught four or five passes. He's a nifty fellow. He looks like Nick Jones and Ace Sanders. He's a pretty good little player. If we have to play with him, he can do it."