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The No. 24 Gamecocks host No. 19 Florida on Wednesday for the first Top 25 game at CLA since 2004.

Gamecocks prepare for No. 19 Florida; former Gamecock earns Pro Bowl nod

Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more.

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Gamecocks prepare for Part I of big week

The first game of the Gamecocks’ back-to-back Top 25 matchups happens Wednesday night at Colonial Life Arena.

Related: Gamecocks basketball ‘trying to get both’ in big week

The No. 24 Gamecocks (14-3, 4-0) will host No. 19 Florida for the first Top 25 game at CLA since 2004.

Yes, you read that correctly: First Top 25 game at CLA since 2004.
Yes, you read that correctly: First Top 25 game at CLA since 2004.

If the Gamecocks are to go 2-0 over this stretch, their stingy defense will have to be the main reason.

“I always tell everybody give as much effort as you can,” senior guard Sindarius Thornwell told the media on Tuesday. “The only thing we can really control is our effort. That’s really on defense. If we guard and do as much as we can on defense, I think that will give us a chance at the end of the game to be in a situation where we can win.”

Designated as a blackout for fans, the most highly anticipated game at CLA in recent memory tips off at 6:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday.

Related: Florida basketball vs. South Carolina: Time, TV channel, how to watch online

Baseball commit passes away

Some upsetting news out of Lexington.

Brett Williams, a sophomore at White Knoll High School, passed away from unknown causes suddenly on Tuesday afternoon.

Related: Chad Holbrook statement on passing of Brett Williams

The first baseman had committed to the Gamecocks less than two weeks ago, on Jan. 5.

Head coach Chad Holbrook, along with countless other Gamecocks and baseball fans, offered their condolences throughout the day.

Hale McGranahan has more details on the sad situation.

Baseball ranked again

The Gamecocks again find themselves in prime preseason position — coming in at No. 4 in D1 Baseball’s Top 25 poll.

From SEC Country:

It is the third time the Gamecocks have been ranked in the top 5 by an organization preseason. South Carolina was ranked No. 5 by Perfect Game and No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball.

Expectations are high for Holbrook’s team this season, especially after it was unceremoniously bounced from the NCAA tournament last season after being swept at home by Oklahoma State in the Super Regionals.

Stewart going to Pro Bowl

Former South Carolina DB Darian Stewart earned his first Pro Bowl nod on Tuesday.

From SEC Country:

Denver’s “No Fly Zone,” will actually be well-represented in Orlando. Stewart will play alongside cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr., as well as outside linebacker Von Miller. Together, Denver’s defense was the only team to allow fewer than 200 passing yards per game.

Stewart played the linebacker/safety “Spur” position for the Gamecocks from 2006-09.

The hard-hitting Huntsville, Ala., native was a pivotal part of the foundation built by Steve Spurrier in the years prior to the success of the 2010-13 teams.

Stewart was known as the jack-of-all-trades on the Gamecocks defense — creating turnovers in the secondary while still providing run support and causing havoc in the backfield.

From undrafted to Super Bowl champ to the Pro Bowl, major congrats to this former Gamecock.

More from Orth

SEC Country’s Mike Wilson spoke with former Gamecocks QB Perry Orth about his post-playing career venture, QB1 Athletics.

“I’m fired up,” Orth told SEC Country. “It’s really good knowing that I can help motivate the next generation of quarterbacks coming up.”

Orth will pull from years of experience and tutelage under proven offensive minds such as Spurrier and Kurt Roper.

The quarterback cited his work in helping bring freshmen signal callers Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley up to speed as sparking his interest in training.

Related: Former South Carolina QB Perry Orth ‘fired up’ about quarterback training business

In case you missed it

Farewell, Vine

The Vine app officially became the Vine Camera on Tuesday. Let’s give it the proper send-off with a flying Michigan helmet …