Weather and injuries could threaten South Carolina's annual spring game

Eric Boynton

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer laughed Tuesday when asked about Saturday's weather forecast calling for a 90 percent chance of rain with his team's annual Garnet and Black spring game to close spring practice scheduled for that afternoon.

"My wife is texting or calling me like every 90 minutes with a weather report," Beamer said via videoconference. "I've certainly seen (the forecast). I had one year at Oklahoma where we were scheduled to play on a Saturday and moved it to Friday night two days before the spring game. We don't have any (alternate) plans at this point. It's something we'll monitor, but we're keeping our fingers crossed."

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The probability of wet weather is a bad scenario for a team dealing with injuries and a lack of depth at multiple positions. That could alter the way Beamer and his staff handle business for the 2 p.m. kickoff in Williams-Brice Stadium. A crowd of roughly 15,000 will be allowed inside and the game will be televised on SEC Network Plus.

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer puts his players through spring practice (South Carolina Athletics photo)

"Obviously from a health standpoint, we've got to see where we are," Beamer said. "There were some positions (Tuesday) when we finished practice that it would be very tough if things stay the way they are right now for us to be able to have a game if we don't get back some guys back.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed that some of these bumps and bruises will heal up and we'll have enough of them healthy enough to be able to go out there and compete on Saturday which we're optimistic we will. We'll meet as a staff and see where our guys are on Wednesday and make a final decision."

Several injured veterans were held out of Tuesday's practice including running back Kevin Harris, receiver Dakereon Joyner, safety R.J. Roderick and linebacker Sherrod Greene. Beamer mentioned he did expect at least Harris to play Saturday.

South Carolina offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and wide receiver Jalen Brooks (right)

A number of factors -- including time allowed by the NCAA in which to hold the maximum 15 spring practices and classes concluding and finals beginning -- would not allow the game to be pushed back to a later date.

"I'm a glass is half full, positive-energy, positive-thinking guy so I haven't even thought about that aspect of it," Beamer said.

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The roster will be divided into two "evenly matched" teams, and coaches also will be placed on certain teams as well. Offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield and defensive counterpart Clayton White will bounce back and forth making their respective calls for both teams. Beamer hopes to release the split roster publicly Thursday morning.

Beamer said the No. 1 goal is to stay healthy, and then he is basically looking for things to run smoothly, especially since the game plan on either side won't be complicated or revealing.

South Carolina running backs coach Montario Hardesty (South Carolina Athletics Photo)

"A lot of it will just be the mechanics and efficiency we're able to operate with," Beamer said. "It's on television, we're not going to come out and just throw the whole gamut at it for the whole world to see everything we're doing offensively, defensively and on special teams. It will be very simple where we can let our guys just go play and compete, make plays on television and in front of a crowd.

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"I want to see how our guys operate in that environment because they haven't been practicing in front of a crowd all spring and we've got a lot of new guys who haven't played in front of a crowd this big."

 Beamer said after a spring schedule that included plenty of off-field time between practices where the team would hold meetings or spend time in the weight room this week more closely resembled a regular game week. The team was off Sunday after a Saturday scrimmage then practiced Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday is mandated off time due to a campus-wide wellness day before the team will practice Thursday and Friday.

"This will be a grind for our guys and we challenged them this week from a mental and physical toughness mentality, all that," Beamer said. "It's a great opportunity to see how guys handle that fighting through the bumps and bruises. We are here at the end, but these next three practices are critical for us as a football team."