Head Coach Steve Spurrier met with the media Tuesday afternoon to preview Saturday's SEC road game at Tennessee. The Gamecocks and Vols will kick off at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN2.
South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier
Getting ready to play Tennessee again. It's always a big game for the University of South Carolina. I don't know how big a game we are to them. They still lead the overall series pretty big (with) 22 wins and five losses. We've only beaten them once in Knoxville in the history of the series, and four times in Columbia. It's always exciting for our guys to go up to Rocky Top and play the Tennessee Vols. (They're) A team with tremendous tradition and history of football. It's back in my home state of east Tennessee. It's always a thrill to go in that stadium and compete in the game. I've been lucky to go in there a bunch of times. The first time was with Duke in 1982. It will be again a special thrill to go in there. Tennessee is a team that hasn't been quite as strong as they normally are. They've played some good halves against the top teams in the country but haven't been able to finish those games, but we know they'll be ready for us. We're the type of team that hasn't clobbered anyone much. It will be a down to the wire ball game similar to Mississippi State and our other games that have been close. Hopefully our guys can play one of their best games. It will be difficult without Marcus (Lattimore) although Marcus will be on the trip. He indicated he wanted to be with his teammates and in the team meetings. He will be with us and I'm sure he'll be a super teammate on the sideline. Other than that Connor (Shaw) is ready for his third start. Tennessee is starting a new quarterback, Justin Worley, a kid from Rock Hill (South Carolina). I'm sure he'll be fired up and ready to go. Our defense has to continue to play well, maybe better on third downs. Offensively we need to play better. It should be a heckuva game. (At) 7:30 it will be cool, probably the coolest we've had this year, but I don't think it will be as cool as the Clemson game last year, and our guys played well. We're looking forward to this game to see what happens. Huge game for us and a big game for them.
On Kenny Miles and Eric Baker
Kenny is ok. Kenny practiced last night. Brandon (Wilds) again is our starter. He's been healthy all season and has been practicing more. We think he's better prepared to play than Kenny now because of Kenny's wrist, but he was out there last night and Kenny should get some playing time. Josh Hinch is our third tailback and Josh will probably play a little bit. He's a walk-on kid from Knoxville, Tennessee. Eric ran around last night. He's not quite 100 percent but maybe by Saturday he will be. He'll also be available for us, Eric Baker.
On Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley
He was the player of the year in the nation coming out of high school. He's a very talented young man. We'll have to see how it goes. I don't know a lot about him to tell the truth except he led Rock Hill to the state championship. They won every close game they were in. His team beat Jadeveon Clowney's team a year ago. This kid has a winning track record and they have a shot, so we'll have to play well.
On Kyle Nunn's injury and its affect on the offensive line
It's probably affected a little bit here and there pass protection-wise. Kyle was having a good year. Cody Gibson has stepped in well and he's ready to go. It's probably hurt us a bit because Kyle was having a good year, but when a guy gets hurt you put the next guy in there and do the best you can.
On backup quarterbacks
Our backups at quarterback - we have a package with Bruce (Ellington) in there. Everyone saw that the last game. The last drive to score he was in there three or four plays. We have a lot of confidence putting Bruce in there. Dylan Thompson and Andrew Clifford are behind Connor (Shaw). They're capable. Dylan threw some pretty balls last night. Dylan has a lot of potential. He just hasn't played much. It's his second year here. Andrew has a quick release. If he can figure out where everyone is, he can be a pretty good quarterback. Right now neither of those guys hopefully will be in there when the game's on the line (because) hopefully Connor can go the distance.
On not recruiting Justin Worley
I asked Coach Mangus about that later on in the year. You'll have to ask Coach Mangus to tell the truth. We went in another direction at quarterback. We went for Tanner McEvoy. That was a decision we made early. We were recruiting the Dixon brothers and one was at Rock Hill. I remember asking Ellis (Johnson) how come we didn't go after this guy (Worley). For some reason we didn't. Probably should have, I don't know.
On Justin Worley vs. Tyler Bray for Tennessee
I would think he's a little like they're first quarterback, Tyler Bray. They're offensive coach does a good job with those guys. They have some imagination. I'm sure Worley can do those things also. I don't know if he can do them yet of course. We're trying to get our guys to look off better and give a shoulder lean here or there. I wish we could get better at that. We'll just have to see how it goes. This kid's a winner, there's no question about that. Our defensive line has to play well. We need constant pressure on him and hands in his face. Tennessee hasn't been a good running team, although they have to run. We have to stop the run first and stop the pass like all good defenses do.
On the bye week and team captains
We are well rested. We had a little downtime last weekend and watched games around the country. We know where we are. Our captains we voted for in the open date. Travian Robertson and Melvin Ingram are our two defensive captains, and on the offense Terrence Campbell and Alshon Jeffery. We just let the guys vote for the top four and they were the top four. If we had three on defense and one on offense we would have done it like that. Those are the top four. I think they'll do a good job with leadership and direction for the team as we make a stretch run the next few weeks.
Hopefully we'll keep getting them and we're not giving up too many. Most of our turnovers have been long passes that aren't good but aren't as crucial as a turnover for a touchdown. We've been fortunate not to throw a pick where they ran it back to the 2-yard line. We've been pretty good in our territory most of the time. We've had a few fumbles, but most of them are picks. We need to score more touchdowns. There's no question about that. Offensively we need to get more than two touchdowns a game as we go through this stretch run.
On playing on the road and crowd noise
We try not to make it matter. If we had a choice we'd play them all at home of course, but we realize if you'll have a big year you'll play on the road. We try not to make a big deal about the road or the crowd noise. Even here at home Connor (Shaw's) voice isn't as loud as Stephen (Garcia's) was. A lot of times we go in there and the center says he can't hear him, so we started lifting the foot at home. T.J. (Johnson) has played well. Sometimes his hearing isn't that good, and he's a young man too. He's not up there in age. So we said pick your foot up and we'll all go, T.J., when you're ready.
On the toughness of playing in Neyland Stadium
It's one of them. There're all tough. I'd hate to rank them. They're all up there. Almost everyone (in the SEC) has a stadium over 80,000. Only a few in our conference are under that. We try not to make a big deal out of it.
On how Connor Shaw has improved since starting
Hopefully just his selections and choices where to throw the ball and when to throw it. He's still learning. He actually threw one last night to the opposite side where the play was called given the defense, and I said that's how you play the game. You play according to how they play defense and get the ball out of your hand quickly. He's got to think quickly and know where all his receivers are. He's getting better at that, and I think he has a chance to get better as he continues playing.
On the SEC East race
There is attention on our side. Ask those Georgia Bulldogs what kind of attention they give us every week. We don't want to be uptight about it. We talked briefly about where we are and what our goals are. Obviously our first goal is to win the eastern division. You just want to concentrate on the game that week.
On play calling
You call plays according to the score and how the game is going. That's what I've been doing. If the game's tight we tried to run Marcus (Lattimore) and make something happen. A lot of times nothing was happening. You try to get a feel of what your team can do and what the score is and go from there.
On not scoring first in recent games
It is interesting. We can't score first. Even against Kentucky and Vandy we had a turnover and fumbled the opening kickoff. I don't know what to think if we score first. It does mean we're not going to panic. I remember they used to say the team that scores first wins 60 percent or something like that. Those statistics may not be true anymore, I'm not sure.
On Brandon Wilds
Brandon is a young man that really didn't have a tremendous senior year in high school. He had a pretty good year but this junior year was statistically better. He was a local kid so he was always around at every opportunity. In the summer he was always around also. He's always in that weight room usually when I'm in there about 1:30 or so. He's a hard worker. He's faster and stronger (than high school). Coach Fitz will tell you Brandon is one of his favorites when they come in the weight room.
On Brandon Wilds as a tailback and not a fullback
He played a little bit fullback but not a lot. He's big enough to play there if we need him. I think he was in the game at fullback a little, but I think that was just to go out for passes. He's a tailback; he's a one-back type of guy. He started fifth team at the beginning of the year with Marcus (Lattimore), Shon Carson and Kenny Miles tied at second, Eric Baker and then Brandon. Now he's number one.
On getting a marquee quarterback
That's an interesting question you had there because we're always wondering why you can't throw the ball around the field like we did at Florida. Then I started thinking how many of those guys I coached at Duke and Florida that played in the NFL. Not all were All-Pro players, but we were writing them down. Dave Brown from Duke played 10 or 11 years. (From Florida) Shane Matthews had 16 years in. After him Danny Wuerffel had five or six years, Doug Johnson six or seven, Jesse Palmer (played), Rex Grossman is still playing this year. For some reason I thought we could get some guys to do it (at South Carolina). Maybe there's a combination of reason. We haven't sent any quarterbacks or offensive linemen to the NFL. We've sent a few receivers. Anyway for whatever it's worth, that's just what's happened. Maybe we can send some quarterbacks before I leave here to the NFL. Let's hope so.
On not attempting a field goal under 40 yards this season
That's another interesting statistic. We haven't attempted a field goal in the red zone. I'm a big believer of scoring touchdowns than field goals. It seems when you kick field goals you end up getting beat. And we've had some turnovers down there. Two field goals equals six and one touchdown equals seven. You have a touchdown and turnover, that's better than two field goals, but they do red zone stats and that's a minus instead of plus.