Suspended Cook has appendectomy

COLUMBIA — South Carolina's offense will be in Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher's hands for Saturday's opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Starting quarterback Blake Mitchell's appeal of a one-game suspension was upheld by the school, USC said Sunday night.

The punishment was levied Thursday because of Mitchell's suspect summer class attendance. Mitchell had hoped to overturn the decision, teammate and roommate Andy Boyd said, because of a class he had dropped.

Evidently, his case wasn't strong enough.

"If he's out, Chris Smelley will start the game," coach Steve Spurrier said earlier in the week. "If Blake's in, Blake will start the game. That's about as simple as I can say it."

In addition to the redshirt freshman Smelley, Spurrier said Beecher, a redshirt sophomore, will play also. Together, the pair have thrown 17 passes at USC.

Mitchell, a fifth-year senior, would be eligible to return for the Gamecocks' Sept. 8 game at Georgia.

After losing his starting job following last year's loss to Georgia, Mitchell rallied from USC's ninth game on, helping the Gamecocks win their final three games, including the Liberty Bowl.

In that victory against Houston, Mitchell threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns, earning offensive MVP honors.

It was a rough weekend for another Gamecock in hot water. Safety Emanuel Cook, currently suspended from the school and team, spent much of the weekend in the hospital after an appendectomy.

Even if eligible, the 19-year-old sophomore would have missed the better part of a month recovering from the surgery.

Cook was arrested Thursday night and charged with possession of a gun on campus.

Spurrier said it's his understanding that the weapon and vehicle belonged to a friend, who was also arrested.

Because of the surgery, school officials might have to reschedule their Tuesday hearing with Cook about the incident. Per university rules about weapons, Cook was summarily suspended by USC.

Spurrier remained hopeful Saturday that Cook would be exonerated and reinstated.

"I just certainly believe his story, and hopefully everyone that's involved in this decision will be listening and believing his story also," Spurrier said." Hopefully, it's all true, and I think it is. Emanuel is a fine young man and obviously we do everything to support him, all of us around here."

Cook, from Riviera Beach, Fla., was a Freshman All-SEC selection last season.

Spurrier said Saturday that corner Stoney Woodson would take over for cook at strong safety. Carlos Thomas will start at Woodson's corner spot.

This and that

After a day off, the Gamecocks will resume their preparation tonight for Louisiana-Lafayette ... Oddsmakers have USC as a 28 1/2-30-point favorite against the Cajuns ... Freshman quarterback Stephen Garcia and offensive lineman Quintin Richardson have been working out with the scout team, a possible sign they're headed toward redshirts. Spurrier has alluded to that possibility in recent weeks.

Reach Travis Haney at thaney@postandcourier.com.