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March 31, 2009

Gamecocks' o-line not so fine in spring

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina offensive line took hits on a pair of fronts Tuesday.

First, fifth-year senior Lemuel Jeanpierre, who started five games at guard before suffering a season-ending right knee injury against Tennessee on Nov. 1, sustained a new knee injury during Friday's scrimmage and will miss the remainder of spring practice.

The Orlando, Fla. native, who has started a total of 10 games at guard since moving over from the defensive line two years ago, wore a yellow jersey during Tuesday's practice.

"He has a bad knee," coach Steve Spurrier said Tuesday night. "He popped a little cartilage or something in there. So he's out the rest of the spring. He'll probably have a little minor scope job."

Spurrier said the latest injury was not related to the knee injury incurred by Jeanpierre last fall.

The injury shouldn't impair Jeanpierre's ability to win a starting job in the fall. New offensive line coach Eric Wolford said he doesn't intend to name a starting five until shortly before the season opener at North Carolina State.

LINE LOAFING

But the much-maligned offensive line also endured some criticism from Spurrier and Wolford, who counted 26 'loafs' during the most recent scrimmage when it was dominated by the defensive line. As a result, the entire unit did some extra running after Tuesday night's practice.

Spurrier is counting on Wolford, who served on the Illinois staff for two years before arriving in Columbia about three months ago, to spearhead a revival along the offensive front. The first nine practices, however, have been inconsistent for a unit that has been the subject of harsh criticism over the past few years.

"The last scrimmage, they got their butts kicked pretty good," Spurrier said. "Hopefully, it won't be like that during [the next scrimmage]. Coach [Wolford] ran them for some loafs. I think we only had about 25 or 26 in the last scrimmage, so they're doing some extra work. Hopefully, they'll get the message."

The offensive line opposed the defensive line in the one-on-one board drill Tuesday night and multiple o-linemen held their own. But Wolford is looking for significantly improved play from his unit.

"Every day is an adventure," Wolford said. "The biggest thing we saw in the scrimmage as a group was 26 lack of efforts. That's something we're trying to correct, getting guys playing to the level we expect them to play. If you're not finishing blocks or losing a guy late, that's considered a lack of effort. That's something we're trying to change around here. We're going to run after practices until we learn to play with great effort."

Spurrier is already looking ahead to the summer conditioning program and hopes the players show better dedication and enthusiasm for the workouts then they have in past years.

"Hopefully, the players will make the commitment this summer," Spurrier said. "But they have to want it. You can't force a horse to drink water. I know we have a lot of guys that want it. We want to be the best we can be. I'm not sure we have a high percentage yet. It hasn't shown up yet since I've been here."

Spurrier hinted letters could be sent out to a few players this summer threatening to revoke their scholarships if their attitudes don't improve.

"We'll send out a few letters out to those guys that don't play with great effort and try to get the message out," Spurrier said. "It's not bad, but it's just not where we need to be to beat LSU, Alabama, Georgia and those guys. We have to give better effort."


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