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November 19, 2013

Quarles, defensive line recovering for Coastal

Saturday's physical 19-14 win over Florida took its toll on junior defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and South Carolina's defensive line, but they should recover in time to face Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Quarles, Jadeveon Clowney, J.T. Surratt and Gerald Dixon have been limited by minor injuries this week, but Surratt and Dixon have already returned to practice. Defensive line coach Deke Adams called his unit "the walking wounded" after Tuesday's practice, but said that all four should be ready by Saturday.

"We're banged up right now," Adams said. "We're trying to get them back healthy. They'll be back as the week goes, and they'll be ready to play."

Quarles has missed time because of headaches, but plans to start practicing again Wednesday. Quarles says he didn't suffer a concussion against Florida, but that he made the mistake of leading with his head when he hit Florida's center on a fourth down play.

"I got a real bad habit of leading with my head when I hit, so I've got to try to take a new approach at hitting people now," Quarles said.

Quarles says he knows a few of Coastal Carolina's players, and thinks the 10-1 Chanticleers will be come into Williams-Brice motivated. Quarles says it isn't easy to stay focused on Coastal Carolina with the SEC Eastern Division still up in the air and a night game against Clemson looming, but he says the Gamecocks have to be focused on what's in front of them.

"They're going to try to come in here and knock us off, but I mean, we go out there and play ball and come out there with a little fire and intensity and we'll be alright," Quarles said.

Adams wasn't happy that his defensive line gave up 169 first-half rushing yards to Florida, but liked the way his unit responded afterwards. After Adams challenged the line at halftime to step it up, the Gamecocks allowed just 31 yards on the ground in the second half and kept Florida off the scoreboard.

"It's always a work in progress," Adams said. "I tell them all the time, if you're where you think you should be, you probably should give it up because there's always room for improvement."

Adams says the Florida game tape revealed some of that room for improvement, and, like Quarles, he doesn't think Coastal Carolina should be taken lightly this weekend.

"They're a 10-1 team. I don't care what level you are, I don't care what conference you play in. You win 10 ball games, you're a good football team," Adams said. "They throw the ball around well, and they're running the ball well. They've got a big running back. I'm sure they're going to try to come in here and run the football. They're averaging over 500 yards of offense and scoring over 40 points a game, so we've got to come out and play."

Quarles says he is talking to Lorenzo Ward and Steve Spurrier about it, but he hasn't made up his mind if he's going to forego his senior season to enter the NFL Draft next spring, or even if he will walk with the seniors during senior night. Spurrier has extended an offer for him to do so, along with junior cornerback Victor Hampton, if either decides to turn pro early.

"I don't know," Quarles said. "We got a couple big games left. We're hoping something happens with Missouri and we can get into that SEC Championship, so I'm really excited about that and I really want to play against those guys. It's Alabama, that's the No. 1 team in the nation. I just want to go out and play the best that I can with my teammates while I can."

South Carolina's 1 p.m. kickoff with the Chanticleers Saturday allows them to sit back and watch Missouri take on No. 24 Ole Miss at 7:45 Saturday night on ESPN. Quarles said the entire defensive line will watch the game together.

"We're going to coach Adams' house to eat up all his food," Quarles said, grinning ear to ear. "He's cooking on the grill and we're going to eat up all his food and watch the game."

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