Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's SEC East home game against Missouri. The Gamecocks and Tigers will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
Opening Statement on D.J. Swearinger's suspension D.J. Swearinger is going to miss the game. The commissioner ruled his helme-to-helmet hit above the shoulders was against the rules now. It was certainly worthy of a penalty. I thought it was similar to the hit the Vanderbilt player hit Justice Cunningham but the commissioner saw it a different way. He is suspended. We'll live with it. D.J. will be ready next week. He'll be with us on the sideline. He'll be a good teammate and hopefully help the guys on the field. T.J. Gurley will take his spot at safety. He's a true freshman but a really good player that we believe will play well. We're all for safety and that was a hit we're trying to teach our players you can't do that. You have to try to guard against helmet-to-helmet and hitting above the head. We accept the penalty and will move on from here.
On the quarterback situation
Connor (Shaw) threw the ball around well last night. He'll start. He's fine. If there's a place for Dylan (Thompson) to come in and help us beat Missouri, we'll certainly consider that. No issue on who the starter is this week.
Missouri is a good team. They've been a good team for many years. They've been playing football for over 100 years just like we have here at South Carolina. It's something new for them joining the SEC. This is their second conference game. Hopefully our guys are ready to play and play a bit better, some of us, than we did last week. Football is an ultimate team sport. You can be on a team that's number seven in the nation and 3-0 and not play well. Most of our guys are playing well, don't get me wrong. We just have a few that need to pick up their play if we're to have a big year. 3:30 on CBS, it's the number one game in the conference this week. The TV audience will be huge as will the fans coming into the stadium. We're looking forward to the game. Whether or not the Missouri quarterback starts or plays, there's nothing we can do about that. I sort of expect him to play unless he's really hurt. Another ball game; another big one (in the) eastern division. If we'll have a chance to win the division, this is a crucial game for us.
On T.J. Gurley
T.J. has been with us since the summer. He's been here a while. He's a quick learner, tough kid and good athlete. He can play football. He's on almost all the special teams, which tells you he can run and make tackles. Our scheme isn't too complicated. We think he can play well. He's played a little behind D.J. (Swearinger). Hopefully he's ready to go out there and play well.
On Connor Shaw's ability to run with the shoulder injury
Last week we didn't anticipate him running a lot. We probably should have. At times we didn't run block very well. Maybe they just had a good stunt on that. The run wasn't very good. There's no question that running with the ball is what Connor does which makes him a good quarterback. If he plays, he'll run some. If he can't run I don't' think he's quite as effective. We believe he'll be able to run some.
On the lack of field goals through three games
We never were a big field goal team. Most o the teams I've coached weren't big field goal teams. Usually when we kick a lot of field goals, something would happen and we'd get beat. The Georgia game four years ago, the 41-37 game or whatever it was, we kicked about four or five field goals and tried to score at the end and didn't get it done. My personal experience is almost every time we kick four or five field goals we got beat. Certainly you can win some 16-10's, which we did against Ole Miss several years ago, but usually the team that scores touchdowns is much better off. I'd rather go for a touchdown and miss and go for one and get one than (to kick) two field goals. 7-6 is not hard to comprehend that that's better. We've been a lot better with Marcus (Lattimore) here and the ability to run. The first four or five years we couldn't run much from the four or five yard line. Now we can so that's helpful.
On going for it on fourth downs
We did last year. All the statistics say you should go for it on fourth down. I think Missouri has gone for eight fourth downs in three games. They're a team that goes for them. We haven't had quite the situation yet to go for them. It makes sense to go for them I think.
On playing quarterback
You have to be pretty tough physically and mentally to play quarterback anywhere nowadays. I've always said courage is the most important quality a really good quarterback must have. The throw Connor (Shaw) made the other night against UAB, the strong safety came. We screwed up the protection ... we should have blocked that guy. We had the protection called to block it but we didn't execute which is bad coaching. Anyway, Connor stood and threw it, got hit hard and was out the game. That's what quarterbacks have to do. They have to stand and throw the ball.
On Connor Shaw
Connor is fine. I think he could've played the second half the other night. He just had some quick pain right there. I think the trainers halfway told him you're finished because we were ahead a little bit. I think if he had to play he could've played the other night.
On if teams will target Connor Shaw's shoulder
I don't think there are any dirty teams out there like there used to be some days back. I think most coaches now, it's a physical game and there's going to be some hitting, but they all do it the clean way. We all try to. You hope there are no injuries to either team. I would say almost every college team in the country has a team chaplain. Our prayer before the game is there are no injuries to either team.
On Dylan Thompson's throwing ability
Dylan has dropped it in there very nicely a few. That throw to Bruce (Ellington) we were telling Bruce you weren't open very much at all. That was a perfect throw no question about that. The one to Damiere (Byrd) was real good too. Connor (Shaw) is a better passer than he's shown. He sometimes holds the ball too long. He was a little deliberate a few nights ago. Tentative was the word I used after the game. Hopefully he can get out of that. He needs to take his steps and fire it in there a few times.
On preparing to play Missouri as an SEC opponent
We play 12 games a year, hopefully one or two more. You talk about the opponent and this is what they do on offense or defense. We don't care if they're from Georgia, Missouri or California too much. It doesn't mean a lot to our guys. You just try to concern your guys about playing their assignments the best they can. We all know Missouri and Texas A&M came into the conference. Our guys know this is an eastern division game. It's crucial.
On Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson
They're such good friends and such good teammates. They're both whatever is best for the team. I hope Connor feels, `Hey Dylan can play. If I'm not doing very well or hurting a bit, we know Dylan can help us win the game.' Hopefully both of them feel pretty good about each other and it makes our team stronger that we have two quarterbacks that can play. We may need both of them as we go through the season. Arkansas is on their second guy, Missouri played their second guy last week.