South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
We're looking forward to this season. There are a few question marks here and there. We don't know who our punter is going to be. We've actually tried to recruit some punters but probably haven't done a good job of it yet. We have some guys doing it and hopefully they'll be OK.
On looking forward to the new season
We'll have some new secondary guys (after) losing Stephon Gilmore and Antonio Allen, two really good players back there, and of course Melvin Ingram and Alshon Jeffery. We lost some really good players. Hopefully these young guys will be ready to take over, and they'll get the opportunity to go play. We're looking forward to the year. We know we have a chance for a good year, but we don't know if we'll have a good year. I think our coaches understand all of that. We're really looking forward to seeing what this team can achieve this season. We know it's not going to be easy. The schedule doesn't really favor us, but that's OK.
On the quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs
We've been impressed with our quarterbacks and wide receivers thus far. I told the guys earlier today, we're actually hitting more passes during our pass skeleton 7-on-7 than we ever have around here. Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw both seem to know where to throw the ball and when to throw it, and the receivers are running good routes. We hope that will carry over. We have an excellent running back, one of the best in the nation if not the best, and some good guys behind him. A lot of people don't really how good of a running back Kenny Miles is as well as Brandon Wilds. We have a chance and a lot of guys have to come around for us, but we've got a pretty good team. I don't know if we have a great team. We have to play our opponents and find out where (we) are.
On if Marcus Lattimore will still run the ball 30 to 40 times a game
We hope we can have more balance, but you just don't know how the game progresses. We're playing Navy last year, and I hope we can pitch it around and run it around. Next thing I know we can't pitch it at all. We're in a tight ball game and we hand it to Marcus 30 to 40 times against Navy. You're foolish if you pitch it around and nothing good is happening. I think we can get more balance this year, but we have to wait and see if we can.
On the advancement of medicine in treating knee injuries
Certainly the doctors are much more advanced than they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. I was actually at the game when Gale Sayers got hurt. I was on the bench with the 49ers, and he got hurt and never came back from it. He had an injury similar to Marcus and similar to Robert Griffin III two or three years ago. The doctors obviously do super work. They come back just as strong. First day of practice I said, `Marcus are you doing everything?' and he said `Everything coach. Don't worry about it, I'm ready.' It's just medical advancements and of course some doctors are probably better than others, and we have a super one right here in Columbia.
On the receivers
We have to wait and see. Obviously the best receiver gets more balls thrown at him than the other ones. Right now Ace Sanders is probably our top guy right now, but hopefully (DeAngelo) Smith will come around. Bruce Ellington, Damiere Byrd is catching a lot of balls out there. We know his speed. Dylan Thompson, if something happens to Connor (Shaw), we have confidence he can go play. Dylan and Connor are real students of the game. They come up here and watch tape a lot. They throw the ball most afternoons during the summer from what I've heard. These are two guys that really want to be good. We're pretty confident we have two quarterbacks that can get the ball in the air to our receivers.
On special teams
We have a new special teams coordinator, Joe Robinson who I think everyone around here is impressed with. In 2010, he was with LSU, and how they compiled the all-around special teams stats they were fourth in the nation and led the SEC. He knows his stuff. I enjoy coming in and listening and watching the special teams meetings and listening to him explain it to the guys. We hope we'll be better. We believe we're going to be.
On Marcus Lattimore
We think he'll be fine. In practice there's no thinking about he has a knee that was just operated on. Our defense is pulling the ball out like all of them do right now. The other day we were watching the tape and two or three of them were waiting on Marcus, and he just lowered the pads and powered right through them.
On the defense trying to strip the ball in practice
(The offense has) learned after a couple of practices. It's helping our guys to learn how to protect the ball. It's sort of interesting watching the scrum when the play is over. Obviously in a game you have to make the tackle first, but if you have two or three there tackling, yeah one of them should try to pull it out. That's smart football.
On losing a first round defensive lineman and replacing him with another good player
A lot of years at Florida we'd have a first round defensive lineman go. We're happy for them. We're happy Melvin (Ingram) was here five years. It's unusual a first round pick stays around for five years. That's neat for us. We're happy for Melvin. If our players go after three years we're happy for them. We're happy for Stephon (Gilmore) and Alshon (Jeffery) last year.
On the tight ends
We've never had the kind of tight ends we have here now. Justice (Cunningham) I think he started his freshman year. He's still here. Buster Anderson and now Jerell Adams is here, and he's a big time talent. Jerell is 6'5" and runs about 4.55. He's impressive. We'll use a lot of two tight end offense, no question about it. We have Kelvin Rainey, a freshman kid here who is a tremendous player too. It's hard to get it to all of them. That's our job as coaches to try and find our best player and try to use all that are ready to play. If you can play a lot of guys, it's tremendous for team morale.
On improved expectations at South Carolina
We weren't all that terrible now. I came out of the Dodie cafeteria yesterday and one guys that works on campus said, `Hey coach, are we going to have a winning record this year?' I said, `Winning record? Our goals have gone past a winning record', but I started thinking that's probably what you used to say around here. That was the question. I hadn't heard it in a long time. That's 7-6. If we go 7-6, that wouldn't be a very good year for us. We've sort of built it up. Fortunately we haven't had a loser here. Had a .500 year a while back. We've got better players and maybe better assistant coaches too. I told our chaplain Adrian Despres and said you and I have been here since we were 6-6 and 7-6, so it's nothing you and I are doing. It's these assistant coaches. He said you're right.
South Carolina Junior RB Marcus Lattimore
On his thoughts after running off the practice field at Friday's first practice
It's been a long time. A long time since I've been at practice and since I've done anything football related. It's just a blessing to be back out there with the guys. Not even just doing anything but just being back out there, I'm just grateful. It's a great feeling.
On how he feels
I feel good. I know it's a long process, but my knee feels great. I'm just taking it day by day, and it's working.
On the hardest part of rehab
Just waiting. The limitations I had. I had to wait to run, wait to cut, wait to spin, wait to do certain things in the weight room. It was just real frustrating because I know I can do it, but I knew it was for my benefit if I just waited it out and gave my graft time to heal. It just feels great now.
On when he knew everything would be alright
When we started doing more agility drills in July during the summer, I was doing it. I wasn't thinking about it. I wasn't thinking about cutting on it at all. It was coming natural again, so I would say around mid-July everything just started feeling like I could do it again.
On the game against Mississippi State
It seems like it happened yesterday. I'll never forget it. It really changed a lot (of my perspective and approach to everything), but we overcame it. It's something that I'll remember forever.
I knew it was bad. I just had to face that and just go with it. It is what it is. Now nine months later I feel great.
On if the injury will change his style of running
It's not going to change my style at all. I'm still going to run hard and do what I've been doing. I have Brandon (Wilds), Kenny (Miles), Shon (Carson), and Mike Davis (so) I don't have to take more than 30 carries anymore. That's a good thing. I just want to recognize one of our future leaders, Rico McWilliams. He had an injury last night. My season, every time I go out there, that's who I'll think about because of the way he worked Monday through Saturday. He did everything he could. Not the player he was but the way he treated me - he treated me with respect. I know he's hurting right now, but I know he'll get through it.
On who he talked to while dealing with his injury
I talked to Knile Davis (of Arkansas), I talked to Jonas Gray at Notre Dame and Ron Powell at Florida. He's going through his right now. I talked to Roman Harper from the Saints. He told me about his story. They just say the same thing everyone else says. It's a mind thing. After your nine months are over, you have to get in your mind that you'll be alright. I talked to Ray Graham at Pittsburgh also. He had his ACL the week after mine. It's all in your mind. You just have to stay strong, and it makes you stronger in the end. A year from now or two years from now you'll be a better player.
On the things he's changed since the injury
In the past I only got in the cold tub or hot tub when I was sore. Now I get in it every day. I stretch everyday. I do the little things to strengthen my knee. I didn't really eat any fried foods this summer. I ate healthy. Just doing all the little things.
On Knile Davis and any potential rivalries as two top RB's in the SEC
Knile is my boy. I've been talking to him for about two years now. We just talk about who will have the most touchdowns and most yards. It's not really a rivalry, we're just both fighting for that same goal which is the SEC championship.
On if he's thought about potential awards this season
I'm not really thinking about any of that. The main goal is to beat Vanderbilt. That's our goal. We're going to run the ball of course and I'll have a lot of opportunities to get a lot of yards, but we have a lot of running backs who will get a lot of carries this year. I don't have to carry the ball over 30 times this year, so it's just exciting.
On Shon Carson going through rehab at the same time
He had to pick me up a lot. He's a strong, strong kid. You look at his legs and they look like they're supposed to be on someone that's 250. I don't think he had any hiccups during his rehab process. He's doing fine now. When we were running he was a bit more in shape than me. He had to push me a lot. I appreciate him for that, and he's going to have a big year this year.
On practicing against the South Carolina defensive line
You go across the board, we have probably the best defensive line in the SEC, and our offensive linemen are doing nothing but getting better everyday. They're not going to see another defensive line as big or as fast or as quick as ours, so when we get in the game I kind of know it's going to be a bit easier. That's good for us as a unit.