KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Welcome to the riverside monster. Neyland Stadium is starting to wake up this Saturday morning, with fans filling the stands, the sun poking through the clouds.
It’s a special place in college football. Steve Spurrier, who grew up within two hours of Neyland Stadium, always enjoys coaching here. Over the years, he’s had plenty to enjoy. The Head Ball Coach has a 6-6 record at Tennessee, with the rubber match coming this afternoon.
Spurrier won’t have a full cast at his disposal today. Injuries have impacted this season’s SEC East race, perhaps more than any race in recent memory. South Carolina has not gone unaffected.
The No. 11 Gamecocks will have a couple of game time decisions to make before their noon kickoff on ESPN. Most notably, offensive guard Ronald Patrick and defensive tackle J.T. Surratt will try to play through ankle injuries. Both players would be significant losses in the trenches if they were unable to play. Backups Will Sport and Gerald Dixon Jr. would likely take their place.
USC already knows the status of some players. Receiver Bruce Ellington (ankle) and linebacker Skai Moore returned to “full go” at Thursday’s practice and should be available to play. Safety Chaz Elder (concussion), running back Brandon Wilds (elbow) and center Cody Waldrop (ankle) will not dress.
Gamecocks sophomore receiver Shaq Roland will return from a three-game suspension for an unspecified violation of team policy. He will not start.
Tennessee is also dealing with injuries: WR Josh Smith (undisclosed) is questionable; DB Riyahd Jones (calf), DB Mike Williams (undisclosed) are doubtful; WR Ryan Jenkins (knee), LB Curt Maggitt (knee), TE Alex Ellis (undisclosed), QB Nathan Peterman (hand) and TE Joseph Ayres (knee) are out.
As always, the team that handles their adversity best will win.
As always, follow me on Twitter @rwood_SC for full updates during the game. Make sure to check back at PostandCourier.com afterward, and pick up a copy of Sunday’s edition of The Post and Courier for full coverage.