Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's SEC home game against Kentucky. The Gamecocks and Wildcats will kick off at 12:21 p.m. on the SEC Network.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
We're getting ready to play Kentucky. Kentucky is a team that beat us last year. In fact they beat us very similarly tot the game we lost last week. They scored on their last play when they had it. We had a defensive play there. We sort of got in field goal range, but something happened each time and we didn't get an attempt each time. They're a different team this year. They lost Randall Cobb and Michael Hartline, their quarterback, so they've struggled a bit on offense. They're defense is tough. The defense has had to play a lot but they have some guys that stuff the run. Their defensive coordinator (Rick) Minter was here at South Carolina. They have a lot of stuff. They blitz from everywhere - zone blitzes and man blitzes. They have a lot of defenses, which is unusual for Kentucky. These guys are all over the place. LSU had 14 (points) at halftime but they didn't really go up and down the field against Kentucky's defense last week at all.
We're making some changes on offense. We're going to give Connor Shaw his chance to replace Stephen (Garcia). I know our offense looks pretty sorry. We're still seventh in the conference in offense like we were last year. We've moved up to sixth in defense. We're obviously not peaking as well as we'd hoped, but again we feel like Connor deserves a shot to see if he can perform at a higher level and get our offense going a little bit.
As far as offensive line, probably Mike Matulis and Cody Gibson will rotate around at one of the tackle spots. We're probably not going to have as many changes up front. As far as receiver, hopefully we get more balls in the air and get more players involved. Same as our running backs, we need to get Brandon Wilds out and probably Eric Baker. We're trying to get more players on the field. We were stuck with the same guys on the field, and hopefully we can get more players involved to get the team more successful. Other than that, a 12:20 game. We're looking for a big crowd and the fans giving Connor, our offense and the entire team the support they always do.
On Connor Shaw's ability to play the playbook
Connor (is) in his second year now. He's familiar with everything. Hopefully we don't have to change a whole bunch while we're out there. He's practiced all the same plays and so forth.
On Melvin Ingram
He may not play. Melvin sprained his foot; not the one he had surgery on which is good. There's a chance he might not be able to play this week. He thinks he can play. Whether or not trainers and doctors clear him, we have to wait and see. He has his foot in one of those boots right now, so he's definitely not going to practice this week.
On Connor Shaw
We're just going to give him the chance to play the game and make good decisions. He doesn't have to try to win the game for us. We have a good defense. We have to get better on third downs. If we do that we'll have a really good defense, but Connor just has to make some smart decision. We think he's capable. He hasn't played a lot yet. He needs to feel his way as he goes probably. He's going to get the chance to go play.
On Kyle Nunn
Kyle still has a bad back. He hasn't practiced. He's doubtful.
On wide receiver play
We hope that the ball will get out quicker and that (Connor) has somewhere to throw it. It appears the last few games there's nowhere to throw it a lot of times. We'll see if we can do a better job as coaches of having somewhere to get the ball out.
On bouncing back from a loss
We hope we handle it well. We think we will. I told our guys the other day if we had a chance to lose to Auburn or Georgia, we're better off losing to auburn. We have a division opponent coming up this week, a team that beat us last year. After this week last year we had two losses. We're not in bad shape. We're regrouping and trying to get smarter as coaches.
On Stephen Garcia's confidence
Stephen is trying as hard as he can. It just hasn't worked out for him. The other guy, Connor (Shaw), is getting his chance. That's about all I need to say about that.
On deciding whether to switch quarterbacks against Auburn
We were ahead until the last two or three minutes. We were ahead and had very poor field positioning the entire game. We had good field position when the guy ran into Stephon (Gilmore) on the punt. I think we started right at the 50 (yard line) and we scored on two plays. We were inside our own 12-yard line six times. We had the lead and maybe we were a little bit conservative, but coming out of your endzone with a four-point lead and your defense playing well, we thought that was best to win the game.
On Stephen Garcia as the No. 2 quarterback Saturday
He'll be ready to go in if needed.
On Dylan Thompson at quarterback
Connor (Shaw) is ready. He's been here longer. Dylan's been here a while and he's getting better. He's getting a lot of throws in practice and he's improved quite a bit.
On the Wildcat formation
There's always some thoughts of how to run the ball better. We've done a little bit of that. Whether or not that's the way to go we'll have to wait and see. Almost every team has it available. I think Kentucky has a quarterback they may play that is an excellent runner. We may see that on defense also. It's a style of play almost everyone does now.
On Melvin Ingram
He had an excellent preseason. In fact our special teams coach John Butler was always coming in talking about him. What was interesting about the interception he had against Auburn, the guy they were throwing at grabbed him by the jersey and ended up tackling him. If he doesn't grab him there, he had about 95 yards of nothing if that guy doesn't get his jersey. That was almost an extraordinary play. It was a very good play. If that guy doesn't grab his jersey he might have run it 95 yards.
On the running game
We're trying to get our guys to block better. We're trying to get a little more stout in the middle of the line. As we all know what stops running teams is penetration by the d-line. We've had one or two of our guys knocked backwards about every play. We're going to try to not get backwards and get at least a stalemate every play. Run inside and run outside, we have to mix it up. We can't run in the middle every play.