South Carolina tailback Duce Staley was set to test his severely sprained right ankle in a Wednesday workout.
Team trainers outfitted Staley with an "airbrace" and planned to chart his range of motion and jogging ability in a light workout.
With an off week to enjoy before a Nov. 16 trip to Gainesville, Fla., South Carolina coach Brad Scott remained hopeful Staley could return in time for the top-ranked Gators.
"He's coming along right at the pace the trainers were hoping for," Scott said. "He won't practice at all this week, but he has progressed a little bit. If our trainers release him and say he's OK to play against Florida, he'll play."
There is some sentiment for Staley, whose 983 rushing yards still lead the SEC by a comfortable margin, to be held out until the regular-season finale against Clemson on Nov. 23. That game, assuming the likely USC loss to the Gators, could determine a possible bowl trip for the Gamecocks.
"I think it's important for Duce to get some (repetitions) in the Florida game," Scott said. "I'd hate to hold a young man out two games and then put him in against Clemson. He might be a little rusty by then."
HOMECOMING: The Alabama-Louisiana State game Saturday night has plenty of subplots.
There's the Crimson Tide's 13-game unbeaten streak in Baton Rouge, La., dating to 1970. There's a likely spot for the winner in the SEC championship game as the Western Division representative. And there's Curley Hallman.
Forced out in 1994 after four years as LSU's head coach, Hallman took last season off before returning to coaching. The 49-year-old supervises the Alabama secondary and kicking game.
"Curley played for me at Texas A&M and he had coached at Alabama before (1973-76)," Alabama coach Gene Stallings said. "When he played I always thought he was a student of the game. And I thought he had done an excellent job at both Southern Mississippi and LSU. He was a fine young coach that I felt needed to be back in the coaching profession."
Hallman's LSU teams went 16-28, prompting his unceremonious sacking. That opened the door for Gerry DiNardo to make the jump from Vanderbilt to the Bayou.
Under Hallman's tutelage, Alabama leads the SEC in pass efficiency defense. The Tide has intercepted 11 passes and allowed just three touchdown passes.
"Curley brings a certain amount of stability to our team," Stallings said. "He's had both the highs and the lows in the coaching profession and he's a good teacher."
FILLING IN: With starting quarterback Thad Busby's left arm in a cast, Dan Kendra will start for Florida State against Wake Forest.
"Let me clear the air right now," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "Thad Busby is the No. 1 quarterback no matter how Dan Kendra performs. Busby will be our No. 1 quarterback next week."
Kendra, a 6-foot-2, 238-pound redshirt freshman, played well in the second half of Saturday's 49-3 victory over Georgia Tech and adds a little something to the position.
"He'd be a great linebacker or a great fullback," Bowden said. "Having him back there is like having another blocker on the football team. He brings muscle to the quarterback position. When he sees grass, I want him to run."
BIG DAY: It wasn't exactly a stellar day for Georgia Tech's defense against Florida State, but sophomore free safety Brian Wilkins had three interceptions, tying him for second in the ACC."He actually had another one, but the receiver knocked it away," Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said. "He did make those three interceptions, but on the other end, he missed a couple of tackles and still has a lot to learn."
BOOTLEGS: Former Washington County linebacker Takeo Spikes was named SEC defensive player of the week. The Auburn sophomore piled up a career-high 18 tackles in the Tigers' 28-7 win over Arkansas last week. Spikes is one of 11 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given annually to the nation's top linebacker. ... Tennessee defensive end Leonard Little is set to have season-ending surgery on his right knee after suffering torn cartilage in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's win over South Carolina. Little, who leads the SEC with 8« sacks in seven games, hurt himself pursuing USC's Anthony Wright. ... Georgia linebacker Greg Bright leads the SEC with 108 tackles. Vanderbilt's Jamie Duncan is second with 106. ... Over the past four games, North Carolina quarterback Chris Keldorf has completed 88 of 127 passes (69.3 percent) for 1,239 yards and 14 touchdowns. "We hope he continues to ignore the things that are happening around him and play like he has," coach Mack Brown said. ... Alabama defensive back Deshea Townsend strained a hamstring in practice earlier this week but was improving slowly. ... Florida State has held opponents scoreless in 19 of 28 quarters played this season. ... With rumors swirling around freshman quarterback Tim Couch transferring, outgoing Kentucky coach Bill Curry vowed to pursuade as many Wildcats as possible to stay in Lexington. "The commitment they made was not to Bill Curry, it was to the University of Kentucky," he said. "They owe it to themselves and to each other to give the next step a chance before they make any hasty decisions. I'm going to talk to all of them about it before the season ends." ... Georgia coach Jim Donnan, asked about his quarterback situation, made the following pronouncement: "I tell you right now, we'll continue to look at Hines Ward some, but he won't be the starting quarterback against Auburn (on Nov. 16)."
Georgia has a turnover ratio of minus-nine, worst in the SEC. That includes 25 giveaways (15 interceptions and 10 lost fumbles).
Give us a break
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden on his team being a 47-favorite against 2-6 Wake Forest:
"You can't be deceived by point spreads. They'll lull you to sleep. We've got to stay focused. Any time a team can throw and catch a football, you've got a chance. Wake Forest can get hot at any time. It could happen at any time."
Kentucky coach Bill Curry on his lame-duck status:
"It's still an odd feeling. I think it would be for anybody. To act like it's business as usual would be dishonest. But fortunately there's been a good esprit de corps on our team."
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