Aug. 30, 2011
Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's season opener against East Carolina in Charlotte. The Gamecocks and Pirates will kick off at 7 p.m. on FSN.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
I'm looking forward to the ball game up in Charlotte Saturday at 7 o'clock. East Carolina is a team that has an excellent tradition. They've won their conference two of the last three years. Last year they were 6-6 and went to a bowl game. They're a team that believes they can upset some people. They beat Virginia Tech in Charlotte two or three years ago. Certainly they plan on beating us Saturday night. They're an offensive bunch. Their defense was not that good last year, but they're offense was good. Dominique Davis, their quarterback, will probably own all the school records after this season. They play Mike Leach's offense. Ruffin McNeill was at Texas Tech and he brought an assistant with him from there. As we all know, Leach's offense has gone up and down the field every year against everybody. Our defense will be tested. We'll need to cover. The ball's going to get out. It will be a test for our pass defense, not only our third-down defense but also our fourth-down defense. These guys attempted 28 (fourth downs) last year and hit 21 out of 28. They believe in their offense. Our defense needs to play well and offensively we need to play well. We can't go three-and-out because they have a history of moving the ball. It will be a good challenge for us. We're healthy. Everyone that started preseason practice is practicing. Akeem Auguste is still hobbling with his foot injury, but other than that, we're healthy for this time of year. We shouldn't get anyone hurt hopefully.
On the quarterbacks
We plan on playing both quarterbacks in the game. Everyone wants to know who'll start. We'll announce that later in the week. It's not a big deal who'll start. Connor's had a very good preseason. His scrimmages have been better than Stephen's. Stephen had a good practice last night. They're both improved. Competing against each other has made both of them better. We'll see how the season plays out. Sometimes I'll hear coaches say (a player has) won the competition (in preseason camp) so he's our quarterback for the year. I don't know how you can do that. If you have two pretty close, if one is struggling, I don't know how you'll tell the other he doesn't have a chance.
On playing two quarterbacks
I started thinking back of the eight conference champions our team's won (at Florida) and four of the eight we played two quarterbacks. The last was 2000 when we played Jesse Palmer and Rex Grossman. They had four wins each. Obviously if one is playing better than the other, he plays. They'll both play this game and it will be easy if one clearly outplays the other, then we'll know who plays the next game. I'm really impressed with both of these guys. We've gotten to the point that our passing game will be improve. It starts with the offensive line. Those guys have done well this preseason. We're an unknown team. We have high expectations. Some pick you to do well and some pick us not to do well which is ok. We have to earn it on the field and go from there.
On finally playing a game after four weeks of preseason
Our guys are looking forward to it. Four weeks on the field is a long time to practice. We're a week longer than we used to be, but it's fewer two-a-days and so forth, and it's probably a lot safer and smarter than we used to do. Anyway we're looking forward to it. We expect a big crowd. ECU will have a good crowd up there. It should be a heckuva game.
On if he will try to slow down the game due to ECU's offense
We've got confidence that our defense can play. If you're better than the other team, you'd like to have about 15 possessions each side. We hope to get them off the field quickly. If we're fortunate to score quickly, we'll score quickly. We're not going to try to run for three or four (yards). Our offense hasn't changed much from last year. They know Marcus Lattimore will get it a bunch, but we're not out there trying to chew up clock.
On playing a team that has a 3-4 base defense
The challenges are a little bit that they can move guys around more with just three down linemen. They're usually slanting somewhere and the four down linebackers are slanting somewhere so it gives you an extra stand up guy. It's similar to what Vanderbilt and Wofford have done the last few years. We just need to block our guys, block our area and so forth. You don't know who's going to be there. It will be a bit of a challenge for our linemen to make sure we head in the right direction. Your direction is a bit different. We've been watching Air Force and Brigham Young. Their defensive coordinator came from Brigham Young, and their staff visited Air Force last year. We think this is what they'll look like. Last year's ECU defense may not look much like (they were last year).
On Kenny Miles
Kenny's on offense. That was just a one thing (practicing at safety). But that's not a good idea. He's the backup (running back). If something happens to Marcus, he's our guy. Shon (Carson) is an excellent runner with the ball, and he'll be in there some. Shon's a very good running back, so hopefully all three of them will get in the game a bit.
On if there's a plan to limit Marcus Lattimore's carries
The amount of time Marcus plays depends on the score of the game. If it's a close game all the way through, he's read to carry it 30 to 40 times like he did last year. He's ready to go. He's gone through all the practices. We come to try and win the game. That's what you come to the ballpark to do. After that if you're ahead a little bit you let the backup guys play. If we need to give it to him 40 times to beat ECU, we'll give it to him 40 times.
On South Carolina being a source of hope for people
Hopefully we will be. Hopefully we'll give our fans something to get excited about. We'll try our best. Football is big in our state and if we can get them excited about something we'll try our best to do that.
Our depth is decent in most places. Offensive line is not real deep. Maybe a walk on center is our second guy. We need to stay healthy up front. We need to stay healthy on the defensive line. We've got some depth here and there. At wide receiver we've got depth and at running back probably. There are a few spots we certainly don't need to have injuries.
On Jadeveon Clowney's preseason
He's done about what we all expected. What surprised us is he's a bit of a power rusher also. He can knock those guys backwards when he needs to. He's not just going fast round the edge. Jadeveon has an excellent attitude. Coach (Brad) Lawing is working him in. He's done well. He'll be in early and often, and we'll let him earn his way as we get through the season. I told Rick Henry that it's neat for our school to get the number one recruit in the nation, and I appreciate Jadeveon coming here. He believes we can win big. Signing players like him gives us hope that something good can happen for us. He was a huge sign for us that the number one guy thinks South Carolina can win big.
On who can replace Patrick DiMarco
Dalton Wilson is a good solid fullback. He's a player that deserves a scholarship and he's still a walk-on. That's sort of the nature sometimes for sports. Some walk-ons are probably more deserving than some that are on (scholarship). He's a starting fullback and can play tight end in there. He's a good player. Justice Cunningham at tight end is doing well. Buster Anderson is our other scheduled tight end right now. He's come out ahead of those other freshmen tight ends.
On if his team looks as good as the preseason hype
We hope so. We have to go play. Everyone talks like that this year. You ever hear a team say we've had a sorry summer with guys not showing up? Well, I think I've said that in my early years here because it was the truth. Guys wouldn't show up, but it's voluntary in the summer. They all show up now. We don't have any problem guys. Most all teams show up. You have to do it on the field. It's just all talk. We're in talking season until we play the first game. We're ready to play. We've done about all we can to be ready. We're ready to go play. I believe our quarterback play will be better this year because I think these guys have trained and have their minds sharp and ready to go. Hopefully that all proves true as we go through the season.
On what the two quarterback system was based on
It was based completely on the performance of Stephen (Garcia) the last couple of games. His performance was not good enough in my opinion for us to say he's our quarterback next year. In my opinion, I said we need some competition in there. We're still having that. They both have earned the right to play this game. It's based on performance. We have forgiven Stephen for his transgressions. He's a new person, he really is. It's all history. We're starting fresh. It's based on performance from here on out.
On special teams
I'm impressed with what's happened in practice, but we have to do it in the game. I noticed that some guys who were starters on special teams last year aren't starters any more. Hopefully we have our best athletes out there. Coach Butler is very impressive and enthusiastic. He has a plan. We've spent as much time as probably anyone on special teams. Hopefully it will pay off for us.
On Devin Taylor
Devin has done pretty well. He's not played a lot (during scrimmages) like Melvin (Ingram) and Travian (Robertson). They don't play a lot in the scrimmages but we think Devin is ready to go. He needs to knock some balls down this week. Look for him to get some hands up. This is a passing team. Our rushers will get a chance to rush and our cover guys will get a chance to cover, and we'll go from there.
On Brandon Shell
Brandon has done very well. He was back the next day from the heat dizziness that our trainers acted very swiftly and did a super job getting under control. He's about ready to go. He's got a lot to learn. He played in a running offense down at Goose Creek, so the pass protection is a lot to learn for him, but he's coming along nicely. Right now he's the backup right tackle, and hopefully we can get him in the game.
On team goals
The goal is the same as last year, to win the SEC. We had that goal last year and fell short. We'll set some other goals too, but that's the biggest goal there. Try to win the division first and try to win the SEC. We've got some total wins and so forth (as goals). I think we hit five of eight goals last year, which was decent but not great. If we would have won our last two games we would have hit every goal. But we've got some reachable goals this year.