COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier met with the media on Tuesday afternoon to talk about this week's season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.
"We're looking forward to Saturday night. Our team is very healthy for this time of year. Jasper Brinkley was running around fairly well last night. He's scheduled to play. Freshman receiver Joe Hills is a little bit gimpy but he's not expected to play a whole lot anyway. Overall we're a very healthy team going into the game against Louisiana-Lafayette. They've played a lot of big time teams. They play Tennessee this year also. I remember the first game of '96, we opened with them down at "The Swamp". They moved the ball quite well on us and gave us fits early. Fortunately we got the best of them as the game progressed."
"We're expecting (Louisiana-Lafayette's) best shot. They've got a coach, Rickey Bustle, that's coached here a while. He's a Clemson graduate so it's a huge game for their coaches, coaching staff, players and I'm sure they'll be prepared to play their very best. It will be a good challenge, and hopefully we can play our best."
"We've had a lot of practices, scrimmages, snaps and repetitions. We've made our share of errors. Hopefully we can learn from the mistakes and play a fairly close to mistake free game. It's going to be interesting watching the two quarterbacks play. Chris Smelley will start and Tommy Beecher will get in the first quarter or second quarter. He's going to be in early. We're going to play both of them and see how they do. If one of them is playing a little bit better than the other, he may continue on. They're both going to get their opportunity Saturday night."
On the defense
"Defensively, we're looking forward to watching a lot of new players play there also. Ladi Ajiboye on the defensive line, Marque Hall is back from injury last year, and we have a couple of freshman there, Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews. We've got a lot of freshman ready to play. The secondary is fairly set. There are a lot of seasoned players with experience in our secondary. We think we're going to be better in our defense and we're looking forward to Saturday night."
On playing at home
"Looking forward to a big crowd. We've sold just about all of the tickets. Hopefully our people will be here screaming and yelling and giving us that little extra edge that we have here at home as far as crowd noise is concerned. One of the things we've talked about as a team is certainly playing better at home. We lost some close ones here last year. We played decently but we did not get to win in some close games where we had a chance here last year. We're going to try to step it up here at home and try to make this "Our House." As everyone knows, we're with Under Armour now. We have an awning that says "Protect This House," so we're going to try to do that here Saturday night."
On the offensive line
"We're farther along in the offensive line than we've been anytime since we've been here. We think they know what to do and hopefully they can execute their assignments well. We'll probably play at least nine or 10 players in the offensive line. We need to let them all play in the real game and then go from there and see who the best players are. There'll be several offensive lineman going in and out just like receivers and running backs."
On Louisiana-Lafayette's offense
"They're a very good running team. In fact, they're probably more of a running team than a passing team. We have to be assignment clear in what we're doing. It's kind of like the Wofford game (last season). We weren't assignment clear in the Wofford game, but we were very fortunate to beat Wofford. (Louisiana-Lafayette uses) a different scheme; they'll be in the shotgun running the fake to the back, keep it and run some option stuff all over the place. Our defensive coaches had to really adjust from playing against our offense to the one we'll see Saturday night. We have to get them off the field. We can't let them stay out there and take the time off the clock. That's what running teams do."
On playing without Blake Mitchell
"It's not really all that difficult. These guys have been rotating throughout the preseason. Chris Smelley, Tommy Beecher and Blake (Mitchell), they've been rotating. They've all been in the scrimmages. Statistically they've been pretty close; they're all about the same. No one has really outplayed the other predominately. These guys are well prepared to play and I really expect them to play well."