South Carolina hosts Alabama Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game televised by CBS
Oct. 5, 2010
Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's SEC home game against Alabama. The Gamecocks and Crimson Tide will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
We have a pretty good team coming to our ballpark Saturday. I was looking at all the SEC stats and probably the important ones are scoring, defense and things like that. Alabama scored a lot of point offensively this year. The big thing they do well is called blocking and tackling. They're really good tacklers. Guys don't break a bunch (of tackles), and they're really good blockers. They're the epitome of team. They're good in all areas. I don't think they have a leading passer or rushers or tackler now, but as a team they're very good. It will be a big challenge for us. We're looking forward to it (and) looking forward to having (ESPN) Gameday in Columbia. That's an honor and compliment to our football program and university that they'll come here. Alabama probably is the biggest reason they're coming; that's OK. If they believe this is one of the biggest games in the country this week, we're happy to participate. The guys will be excited and ready to go. I know our fans will be. They come out good for these games and I know our team will also. We'll look to have a better game than two weeks ago. Our goal is to be very competitive and see if a good break or two can't happen for us as we go through the game. It should be a fun day in Columbia. It's the first big sellout of this year. Obviously Alabama helps do that. They helped all my buddies at Duke. They had a sellout at Duke also, I think the biggest crowd in 50 years. Alabama is the team that draws the crowd, TV's and everything else right now. They deserve it. They haven't lost a game since 2008, I think. They're a good team and it will be a good challenge for us.
On quarterbacks sliding
In my 30 years of coaching quarterbacks, I never taught one to slide feet first. We taught our guys to protect themselves, get what you can and get down. We tell our receivers to get down after you've caught the ball and are hemmed up. We never ask the guys to (stand) up and get out. Hopefully Stephen (Garcia) can do that. I don't know if he can or not to be honest because he hasn't changed yet. Maybe we've done a poor job coaching him not to go in with his head down and eyes closed. We've emphasized it as much as we can. Hopefully he'll protect the ball when he runs. Obviously you have to run occasionally and both our quarterbacks are pretty good runners, but we must take care of the ball much better. We've lost three fumbles all year all by the same guy. That shouldn't be happening as often as it has. We hope to change it and time will tell.
On Stephen Garcia's scrambling
He made a nice run against Southern Mississippi when he spun off the boundary. He fumbled on that pay. They gave us a touchdown. That wasn't smart (by Garcia).
On what's impressive about Alabama's SEC win streak
I guess what's most impressive is that they've won so many games and they have some close games every now and then and manage to pull all those out. They're Auburn game last year was close for a while. They pulled that one out. The Arkansas game this year, Arkansas had a chance. They were in position. Alabama had turnovers in the fourth quarter and ran the ball well to win that game. They haven't steamrolled everyone. They have the ability to win close games throughout the entire stretch. Tennessee kicked a field goal to win last year and they blocked it. They've done everything necessary to win the game.
On if Alabama is just better than everyone
Maybe they're a little bit better than most everyone. They have big strong linemen that can really play on both sides of the ball. That's the first ingredient every coach looks for, guys that control the line of scrimmage. Other than that they've won the close games during this streak also.
On Patrick DiMarco
Patrick's played well. He plays tight end and fullback, so we don't have to substitute when we change our formations and so forth. Patrick has played well and we believe he'll play well throughout the year. Justice (Cunningham) has done well too. Justice gives us another good tight end in there. We've used that two tight end formation a lot this year. That's probably one of our best running formations. Marcus has most of his yards when we have two tight ends in there.
On the keys to the game
The keys are hopefully not giving them anything. Don't give them anything, which didn't happen last year when we played them. I don't like to reminisce about last year but we threw one to them at the end of the game. It was 13-6 in the third quarter. Our keys are to play the best we can and try not to give them anything, play well on special teams and offense and go from there.
On Alabama's blocking and tackling
They're real sound in that. They're conditioning is excellent also. Their strength and conditioning program is as good as anyone's in the country. Ours is good also. Craig Fitzgerald and his staff do a super job here. But conditioning, blocking, tackling, playing smart (are things Alabama is good at). They don't give opponents much of anything. I think their turnover margin is first in the conference. They have a bunch of interceptions. (They're) Just really playing real smart and don't give the opponents much at all.
On if Alabama could have a let down after a big win against Florida
I doubt it. We hope so but we doubt it. You don't sneak up on a team like Alabama with the tradition of that school, that coach and the success he's had in the past. That coaching staff is a veteran bunch of guys. They have the ability to go one game at a time and to not get full of themselves after wins. They have a track record that a big win does not affect them the next week.
On Cliff Matthews
Cliff's played pretty well. Like he said, `I think I should be playing better too.' He's wearing that brace on his shoulder that the trainers are going to loosen a bit so he can get more mobility grabbing guys. He's been hampered down by that brace he's worn. Hopefully that will free him up.
On the team's goals after the last game
We were ok. We were fine. The game two weeks ago is history. We have it out our system. Hopefully we can learn something from that game. Our goals this week are to play better and try to improve as a team. If we play an excellent game and don't win it, we'll be ready for the next one. That's all we can tell our players - to play the best we can and see where we are. That's our goal this week. We don't have a great deal of pressure on our guys except to play the best we can.
On running against Alabama
It's pretty important every time you play to have a strong running game, especially this week or any week. We also understand sometimes you can't just run up and down the field unless you can totally dominate the line of scrimmage. We always shoot for balance. Interceptions, except that little one against Furman, have not been a problem for our team this year that much. We hopefully can take care of the ball, but we have to take our chances. We can't run three up the middle against Alabama. It won't happen. Nobody's done that against those guys. We have to mix it up, but we still have to run. We know that.
On if Alabama's defense plays different with the amount of personnel losses from 2009
Not particularly. They have their style of defense with some man to man and some zone. Basically guys are in position, tackle well, cover well and things like that. They look similar to last year's guys.
On preparing to play Alabama
Our guys will be ready to play. Last year they were undefeated and we were in the game and didn't play all that great. We had some chances for touchdowns we didn't get. We were actually in the game there until the fourth quarter. We only got beat by 14, but we didn't score touchdowns. We had three drives in the redzone and got two field goals last year. If you want to upset a team you have to score touchdowns. Alabama did a good job of getting the team down to the 2-yard line and not (letting the opponent) score a touchdown.
On the quarterbacks
We'll see how the game goes. We want Stephen (Garcia) to play well and take care of the ball. Basically his fumbles have been the only problems. He's played pretty decently. Obviously he can't go in there blindly, get hit hard and fumble. We'll try to get that corrected and go from there. Connor (Shaw) is ready to play too. We're hoping and believing Stephen can take care of the ball a little bit better.
On if Alabama may change its defensive scheme for Alshon Jeffery
It will be interesting to see if they just play against us like they do everyone else, which most teams do. Every now and then they may run some man to man with the safety over top against Alshon. Other than that, most teams usually play their scheme of defense and go from there. I have a feeling they'll know where Alshon is most every play because we have thrown more of our downfield passes toward him. It could be important to get the other guys involved if we can a little bit more.
On Alabama's recruiting
It's a testament to good coaching and good recruiting. They have really good athletes you start with and obviously they've don an excellent job recruiting. I read the other day one recruiting expert said Alabama and Florida are the two top recruiting schools in the country now. It used to be Southern California and Texas. If you watched Texas against Oklahoma last Saturday, athlete-wise I don't think Texas is close to Alabama now. I think Alabama's athletes compared to Texas's are a pretty huge difference in strength and speed and so forth.
On Garrett Chisolm
Garrett is a fine young man that does everything we ask around here. He's an excellent student. He came as a walk on and went to a college out of Kentucky in Pikeville. He showed up one day wanting to walk-on to our football team. We gave him an opportunity. He went to the scout team and pretty soon Coach Lorenzo Ward said that walk-on Chisolm needs to come to the real team. We took him off scout and he was starting by the end of the year. He's done well in here. We would have loved to have him for four years, but two is pretty good. We're glad to have him with us.
On Connor Shaw
That (interception against Auburn) was the only one bad play. As soon as he threw that I said, `Oh no.' But other than that he scrambled around, threw the ball, made plays, stood in the pocket and took hits. He played pretty well. That last play Alshon had two hands on the ball and they knocked it out. Connor played well. We think he'll be a real great player. We don't know if he's quite ready yet, but we'll have to see how it goes. We hope Stephen (Garcia) will play up to his potential and take care of the ball, and Connor will take over when his time comes.
On why Alabama's goal line defense is so tough
I don't know exactly the answer for that except they were pretty tough around the one to two yard line. They get everyone in there, that's for sure. They cover pretty well if you're trying to throw as well. Sometimes against teams like this you don't want to get to the one-yard line. You want to get to the seven or eight (yard line). Sometimes it's easier to score from that distance. One thing I like about (offensive line coach) Shawn Elliott is he likes to stay spread out down there. That's what we've been doing and we've been a lot better running the ball in than we have in the past. Whether or not we can do it this week and if we get down there (we will see, but) we plan on getting down there.
On defeating the No. 1 team in football
The opportunity is there. I think it's been there before. We haven't quite done it. That's an opportunity but we don't talk about that. We try to talk about having the play the best we can, be smart and put ourselves in position that if we play our best and maybe they don't, something can happen.
On approaching No. 2 on the SEC all-time list for conference victories
I haven't thought about that. I was hoping we'd get that over with at the Auburn game, but we didn't. But we're not talking or worried about that now. Hopefully we can win another conference game somewhere as we go through. That's an individual thing that years from now will be fun to look at, but that's not a big deal.
On coaching against Nick Saban
We first coached against each other in 2000 to 2001. Those were two of the good offenses we had at Florida. We looked like we were a lot smarter than he was those two games. Recently he's a lot smarter than I was last year, lets put it that way. Who knows who'll be the smartest this year. I read something interesting in the paper about the Ryder Cup teams. One writer said whoever wins the Ryder Cup, that captain will be considered between John Wooden and Vince Lombardi. The loser will be considered like an SEC football coach after a loss. That's just the way it is. As coaches we all know that. Of course sometimes you can win and still be a dummy. We've learned that recently. Anyway that's part of coaching we all accept. The winner is a smart guy and the loser is a guy looking for help somewhere.
On the SEC West vs the SEC East
The west has played better than the east thus far. We'll have to wait until it's all over with. Arkansas and Mississippi State have gotten better. Auburn, LSU and Alabama have been strong teams of course. Ole Miss is a strong team too. They've had a couple of setbacks they didn't think they'd have. But anyway, no question the west appears better than the east right now. It was interesting last Saturday (that) every team in the west won and every team in the east lost, except the two that didn't play. We realize this is an important game and there are a lot of big games down the road also. But we're looking forward to seeing what happens Saturday.